Direct Hits Core Vocabulary of the SAT 5th Edition

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Fifth Edition: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1-936551-13-2
Edited by Ted Griffith
Cover Design by Carlo da Silva
Interior Design by Alison Rayner
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Acknowledgements
This fifth edition reflects the collaborative efforts of an outstanding team of students, educators,
reviewers, and project managers, each committed to helping young people attain their highest
aspirations. Their insights and talents have been incorporated into this latest version of Direct Hits.
We wish to express our gratitude to Melissa Irby and Mary Catherine Lindsay, who researched,
refined, and updated many of the examples used in the books.
We are grateful to educator Susan Maziar for her valuable insights, gleaned from her tutoring
experience and from taking the SAT and ACT, and to Jane Armstrong for her editing and eloquent
wordsmithing. We also thank Dr. Gavin Drummond for his extensive literary knowledge in updating
and enhancing the examples in the book.
Alison Rayner was responsible for creating our interior design. We thank her not only for her creative
talent, but also for her flexibility through multiple revisions. Additionally, we are grateful to Carlo da
Silva, who once again used his artistic and graphic skills to design our distinctive cover.
Jane Saral’s extensive experience as an English teacher and writing instructor enhanced our literary
content and expertly guided our editing and proofreading efforts. We thank her for her diligence and
patience throughout this process. We will never look at the Oxford Comma the same way again!
A big thank you goes out to Luther Griffith for his oversight, ensuring that schedules were adhered to
and deadlines were met.
Finally, an extra-special thank you to Claire Griffith for her extraordinary work in coordinating and
directing the team, compiling the material for the revisions, her creative ideas, and her constant focus
on the highest quality content. Without her, this book would not have been possible.
Ted Griffith, Editor
Table of Contents
Introduction
Chapter 1 The Core Vocabulary I
Chapter 2 The Core Vocabulary II
Chapter 3 You Meet the Most Interesting People on the SAT
Chapter 4 Every SAT Word has a History
Chapter 5 The Mighty Prefix Words
Chapter 6 Name That Tone/Watch That Attitude
FAST REVIEW
TESTING YOUR VOCABULARY
Introduction
Why is vocabulary important, you ask?
Words are our tools for learning and communicating. A rich and varied vocabulary enables us to…
Speak more eloquently…
Describe more vividly…
Argue more compellingly…
Articulate more precisely…
Write more convincingly.
Research has proven that a powerful and vibrant vocabulary has a high correlation with success in
school, business, the professions, and standardized tests including the PSAT, SAT, SSAT, and AP
exams. Yet many students complain that taking the PSAT or SAT is like trying to understand a foreign
language. They dread memorizing long lists of seemingly random words.
Their frustration is understandable.
Direct Hits Core Vocabulary of the SAT offers a different approach. Each word is illustrated through
relevant examples from popular movies, television, literature, music, historical events, and current
headlines.
Students can place the words in a context they can easily understand and remember.
Building on the success of previous editions, the authors of Direct Hits Core Vocabulary of the SAT
have consulted secondary school teachers, tutors, parents, and students from around the world to
ensure that these words and illustrations are exactly on target to prepare you for success on the SAT.
You will find that the approach is accessible, effective, and even fun!
Direct Hits offers selective vocabulary using relevant examples with vivid presentation so you can
achieve successful results on standardized tests and in life.
Let’s get started!
The English language contains just over one million words—the most of any language in human
history. If each of these words had an equal chance of being used on the SAT, studying for the test
would be a truly impossible task.
Fortunately, the pool of words used by Educational Testing Service (ETS) test writers is actually
relatively small. Questions on the test are ranked by level of difficulty from 1 to 5, with 5 being the
most difficult. In general, level 3 and 4 questions are missed by over half of the test-takers.
These crucial mid-level words, the level 3 and 4 words, form the core LEXICON or special
vocabulary you need to know to score well on the Critical Reading portion of the SAT. After a
careful analysis of recent tests, we have identified 100 Core Vocabulary Words. The first 50 of
these words are in Chapter 1, and the second 50 are in Chapter 2. The division is arbitrary. Each
word is a high-frequency word that you absolutely must know.
1|
AMBIVALENT
Having mixed or opposing feelings at the same time
In The Avengers, Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Bruce Banner, and Thor are initially AMBIVALENT
about joining S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Avenger Initiative. While they know it is necessary to recover the
Tesseract from Loki, they fear that their contrasting personalities will be detrimental to the group’s
success. Thor’s AMBIVALENCE about working with the Avengers comes from the fact that he is
CONFLICTED (uncertain, torn) about fighting his brother Loki.
In the movie The Notebook, Allie has to choose between Noah and Lon. She is emotionally torn by
he r AMBIVALENT feelings as she tells Noah, “There is no easy way; no matter what I do,
somebody gets hurt.” She later reiterates her AMBIVALENT feelings when she tells Lon, “When I’m
with Noah, I feel like one person, and when I’m with you, I feel like someone totally different.”
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN PREFIX:
AMBI | both
AMBIDEXTROUS
AMBIGUOUS (Word
21)
AMBIVALENT
able to use both hands with equal ease, skillful, versatile
having two or more possible meanings, doubtful, dubious, EQUIVOCAL
(Word 210)
being simultaneously of two minds
2|
ANOMALY
Deviation from the norm or what is expected
<8>AMBI/sp>ANOMALOUS
ATYPICAL, full of ANOMALIES
The Big Bang Theory is a television show that follows the trials and tribulations of an ATYPICAL
group of friends in Pasadena, California. The group consists of Leonard, an experimental physicist;
Sheldon, a theoretical physicist; Howard, an aerospace engineer; Raj, a particle astrophysicist; and
Penny, a waitress at The Cheesecake Factory. Can you guess who the ANOMALY is? Penny’s
presence in the group is ANOMALOUS for many reasons; besides being a girl, she is trendy and
popular and a little NAÏVE (Word 44), whereas the men are geeky, RECLUSIVE (Word 113), and
VERY ASTUTE (perceptive, shrewd). It’s humorous to see these DIVERSE (of various kinds)
friends spend time together because of their continual disagreements.
3|
SARCASTIC, SARDONIC, SNIDE
Mocking, derisive, taunting, and stinging
Winston Churchill was famous for his SARCASTIC and SARDONIC comments. Here are two wellknown examples:
Bessie Braddock: Sir, you are a drunk.
Churchill: Madame, you are ugly. In the morning I shall be sober, and you will still be ugly.
Nancy Astor: Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.
Churchill: If I were your husband, I would take it.
In the movie Avatar, Dr. Grace Augustine tells Jake, “Just relax and let your mind go blank. That
shouldn’t be too hard for you.” This SNIDE remark reveals Grace’s initial contempt for Jake.
4|
DEARTH, PAUCITY
A scarcity or shortage of something
Critics and moviegoers alike have observed that there is an overall DEARTH of respect for
animated features in the Academy Awards. Despite the recent technological and artistic advances in
animation, only three animated films have ever been nominated for the COVETED (Word 32) Best
Picture title: Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story 3. None of them won the award. Critics were
shocked that the phenomenal Pixar film WALL-E was not nominated for Best Picture. Though the
Academy honors animation through the Best Animated Feature award, industry members speculate
that the Best Animated Feature category will perpetuate the PAUCITY of animated films nominated
for the Best Picture award.
5 an8
|
PRATTLE
To speak in a foolish manner; to babble incessantly
Michael Scott of The Office served as the regional manager of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin
Paper Company. He was most notable, however, for his INCOHERENT (Word 185) rambling and
often inappropriate remarks. Here is an example of Michael Scott’s PRATTLING as he discusses
his relationship with his employees:
“My philosophy is basically this. And this is something that I live by. And I always have. And I
always will. Don’t ever, for any reason, do anything to anyone, for any reason, ever, no matter
what. No matter ... where. Or who, or who you are with, or where you are going, or ... or where
you’ve been ... ever. For any reason, whatsoever.”
Tip for a Direct Hit
The word “rattle” is hidden inside of PRATTLE. If you remember the baby toy, it can help
you to remember how babies PRATTLE when they are young: “goo goo, gaa gaa.”
6|
WRY, DROLL
Dry; humorous with a clever twist and a touch of irony
George Bernard Shaw once sent Winston Churchill some tickets for the first night of one of his plays.
Churchill then sent Shaw a WRY response, “Cannot come first night. Will come second night if you
have one.”
Shaw’s response was equally WRY: “Here are two tickets for the second night. Bring a friend if you
have one.”
Even though he did not win, Top Chef contestant Hugh Acheson’s DROLL one-liners have helped
him to become a guest judge on the new TV show Just Desserts. He says “I’ve got youth and
PANACHE (Word 81) and one eyebrow on my side,” referring to his famous trademark unibrow.
Tip for a Direct Hit
A WRY sense of humor is different from a JOCULAR sense of humor. A WRY joke appeals
to your intellect and often produces a knowing smile. In contrast, a JOCULAR joke
appeals to your funny bone and produces a belly laugh.
7|
UNCONVENTIONAL, UNORTHODOX
Not ordinary or typical; characterized by avoiding customary conventions and
behaviors
Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj are known for their catchy hits and bold,
UNCONVENTIONAL wardrobes. The concert film Katy Perry: Part of Me, displayed some of
Katy’s colorful, UNORTHODOX costumes, including a dress covered in spinning peppermints, an
ice cream cone hat, and a peacock dress.
Lady Gaga is also known for wearing UNCONVENTIONAL and even OUTLANDISH (bizarre,
outrageous) stage outfits. Some of her most famous UNORTHODOX outfits include a coat made of
Kermit the Frog dolls and a dress made entirely out of meat.
Some of rapper Nicki Minaj’s recent UNCONVENTIONAL outfits include a gumball machineinspired dress and a dress covered in pom-poms. Nicki frequently sports a towering beehive
hairstyle, an HOMAGE (tribute) to Marge Simpson’s famous blue beehive.
8|
METICULOUS, PAINSTAKING, FASTIDIOUS
Extremely careful; very EXACTING
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Florida is a METICULOUS recreation
of Hogwarts castle and nearby Hogsmeade village. The park’s designers spared no expense to
PAINSTAKINGLY recreate such iconic rooms as Dumbledore’s office and the Defense Against the
Dark Arts classroom. ENTHRALLED (fascinated) visitors can sample butterbeer and even purchase
a wand at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.
A FASTIDIOUS person takes METICULOUS to the next level by being overparticular and
EXACTING. Many car owners are FASTIDIOUS about keeping their cars spotless.
9|
AUDACIOUS
Fearlessly, often recklessly daring; very bold
What do American General George Washington and Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto have in
common? Both launched AUDACIOUS surprise attacks on unsuspecting adversaries. On Christmas
Day 1776, Washington ordered the Colonial Army to cross the Delaware and attack the British and
Hessian forces at Trenton. Washington’s AUDACIOUS plan shocked the British and restored
American morale.
On December 7, 1941, Yamamoto ordered the Japanese First Air Fleet to launch a surprise attack on
the American Pacific Fleet based at Pearl Harbor. Although Japan’s AUDACIOUS sneak attack
temporarily HOBBLED (hampered) the U.S. fleet, it aroused the now-unified country to demand
revenge.
10 |
INDIFFERENT, APATHETIC
Marked by a lack of interest or concern
In the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off , the economics teacher Ben Stein delivers a SOPORIFIC
(sleep-inducing) lecture on tariffs and the Great Depression. Stein’s bored and INDIFFERENT
students ignore his monotone lecture. Hoping for some sign of interest, Stein tries asking questions,
but his efforts are FUTILE (Word 46). Some students are so APATHETIC they fall asleep.
In The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan and his wife, Daisy, appear utterly INDIFFERENT to each
other; indeed, until Tom’s ego is challenged by Jay Gatsby’s interest in his wife, Tom and Daisy seem
APATHETIC about improving their damaged marriage.
11 |
DIFFIDENT, SELF-EFFACING
Hesitant due to a lack of self-confidence; unassertive; shy; retiring
Many actors and actors confess to being DIFFIDENT in their private lives, despite the fact that they
make their livings performing in front of audiences, often in FLAMBOYANT (Word 81) ways.
SELF-EFFACING is not what most people think of when they watch Lady Gaga, but apparently even
Gaga wakes up feeling insecure and DIFFIDENT.
But she then tells herself, “You’re Lady Gaga; you get up and walk the walk today.”
As you study for the SAT, don’t hang back shyly. Don’t SUCCUMB (give in) to insecurity. Study
your Direct Hits vocabulary and approach the test with APLOMB (Word 318).
12 |
PRAGMATIC
Practical; sensible; NOT idealistic or romantic
What do the 16th century French king Henry IV and the 20th century American president Franklin
Delano Roosevelt have in common? Both leaders made PRAGMATIC decisions that helped resolve
a crisis. Henry IV was the newly-crowned Protestant king in a country dominated by Catholics. For
the sake of his war-weary country, Henry IV PRAGMATICALLY chose to become a Catholic,
saying, “Paris is worth a Mass.”
In 1933, FDR was a newly-elected president in a country facing the worst economic crisis in its
history. For the sake of his country, Roosevelt PRAGMATICALLY chose to replace traditional
laissez-faire economic policies with “bold, persistent experimentation.” FDR PRAGMATICALLY
explained, “It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another.
But above all, try something.”
13 |
EVOCATION
An imaginative re-creation of something; a calling forth
What do the treasures of Pharaoh Tutankhamen, Taylor Swift’s music video “Love Story,” and the
movie Titanic all have in common? They are all powerful EVOCATIONS. The treasures of Pharaoh
Tutankhamen EVOKE the power and splendor of Ancient Egypt. Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”
EVOKES a time when beautiful princesses lived in romantic castles and fell in love with handsome
princes. And the movie Titanic is a remarkable EVOCATION of what it was like to be a passenger
on the great but doomed ship.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN ROOT:
VOC, VOK | call
VOCAL
VOCATION
AVOCATION
EVOKE
related to the voice, speaking
your calling, your profession, often used for a religious career
a second calling, a hobby
to call forth, especially from the past
to call back, to rescind, to repeal
to call upon. Epic poems often begin with an Invocation of the Muse, or goddess
INVOKE
of artistic inspiration.
to call forth (see Word 82)
PROVOKE
CONVOCATION a calling together, a gathering
VOCIFEROUS making an outcry, clamorous
EQUIVOCATE to use AMBIGUOUS (Word 21) expressions, to mislead
IRREVOCABLE incapable of being recalled or altered
REVOKE
14 |
PRESUMPTUOUS
Taking liberties; brashly overstepping one’s place; impertinently bold, displaying
EFFRONTERY
One of the most PRESUMPTUOUS actions in recent memory occurred during the 2009 MTV Video
Music Awards. When Taylor Swift came onstage to accept her award for her “You Belong With Me”
video, Kanye West appeared and grabbed the microphone out of her hand. He
PRESUMPTUOUSLY declared, “Taylor, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish, but Beyoncé
had one of the best videos of all time!” His AUDACIOUS (Word 9) EFFRONTERY (rude, arrogant
behavior) shocked Taylor, Beyoncé, and all who watched the VMAs, and he was widely criticized
for it. Eventually, Kanye recognized how PRESUMPTUOUS his actions were and made a formal
apology on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
15 |
RECALCITRANT
Stubbornly resistant and defiant; OBSTINATE; OBDURATE; REFRACTORY (Word 421);
disobedient
What do Hester Prynne (The Scarlet Letter) and the actor Charlie Sheen have in common? Both are
RECALCITRANT. In The Scarlet Letter, the Reverend Wilson demanded that Hester reveal the
identity of the father of her child. But Hester was RECALCITRANT. Despite “the heavy weight of a
thousand eyes, all fastened upon her,” Hester stubbornly refused to name the father, defiantly
declaring, “Never… I will not speak!”
When the producers of the show Two and a Half Men told Charlie Sheen that his drug abuse was a
serious problem that could kill him, he RECALCITRANTLY responded, “I’m different. I have a
different constitution, I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man. Dying’s
for fools, dying’s for amateurs.” A year after the FIASCO (Word 146), Sheen says he is no longer
taking drugs, but he still RECALCITRANTLY refuses to stop drinking alcohol.
16 |
BOON
A timely benefit; blessing
BANE
A source of harm and ruin
Fifty Cent was shot nine times and lived! Was the shooting a BANE or a BOON for his career? At
first it was a BANE because he had to spend weeks in a hospital in excruciating pain. But the
shooting turned out to be a BOON for his career because it BOLSTERED (reinforced) Fiddy’s
“street cred” and attracted lots of publicity.
In Shakespeare’s Othello, the main character, Othello, fires his lieutenant, Cassio, for inappropriate
behavior. Desdemona, Othello’s wife, comes to plead for Cassio’s reinstatement. She argues that she
is not asking for a huge favor: “Why, this is not a BOON.” She continues that he should instead just
think of this request as something normal. Unfortunately for Cassio, the villain Iago is
SURREPTITIOUSLY (Word 17) working to make Othello think that Desdemona and Cassio are
having an affair, even though they are not. Othello, therefore, comes to believe that Cassio is the
BANE of his existence.
17 |
CLANDESTINE, SURREPTITIOUS
Secret; covert; not open; NOT ABOVEBOARD
What do the Men in Black (Men in Black), Dumbledore’s Army ( Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix), and S.H.I.E.L.D. (The Avengers) all have in common? They are all CLANDESTINE
groups that conduct SURREPTITIOUS activities. The Men in Black SURREPTITIOUSLY regulate
alien life forms on Earth. Dumbledore’s Army teaches Hogwarts students how to defend themselves
against the Dark Arts. S.H.I.E.L.D. is a covert intelligence agency that MARSHALS t/span> (arrays
for battle) the Avengers team to protect the world from superhuman threats.
18 |
AFFABLE, AMIABLE, GENIAL, GREGARIOUS
Agreeable; marked by a pleasing personality; warm and friendly
President Reagan was renowned for his AFFABLE grace and GENIAL good humor. On March 6,
1981, a deranged gunman shot the president as he was leaving a Washington hotel. The injured but
always AMIABLE president looked up at his doctors and nurses and said, “I hope you’re all
Republicans.” The first words the President uttered upon regaining consciousness were to a nurse
who happened to be holding his hand. “Does Nancy know about us?” the president joked.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
The English word AMIABLE contains the Latin root ami meaning friend. You may have
heard this root in the French word ami and the Spanish word amigo.
LATIN PREFIX:
AMI | friend
friendship, harmony
AMITY
AMICABLE peaceable, harmonious
19 |
AUSTERE
Having no adornment or ornamentation; bare; not ORNATE (Word 397)
AUSTERITY
Great self-denial, economy, discipline; lack of adornment
Ancient Greek architects often used Doric columns to construct temples. For example, the Parthenon’s
AUSTERE columns conveyed strength and simplicity because they lacked ornamentation.
Although modern Greeks admire the AUSTERE columns built by their ancestors, they vigorously
oppose new AUSTERITY measures that raise taxes and cut social welfare programs. These
AUSTERITY measures provoked massive protests.
20 |
ALTRUISM
Unselfish concern for the welfare of others
The term was originally COINED (Word 296) in the 19th century by the sociologist and philosopher
of science Auguste Comte. Comte referred to iv> em"><ALTRUISM as being the moral obligation of
individuals to serve other people and to place others’ interests above their own.
Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa are all people who exemplify
ALTRUISM through their belief in the basic rights of all people regardless of race, creed, or social
standing, and through their service and sacrifices for others.
Much ALTRUISTIC behavior was seen in the selfless actions of the first responders when the
World Trade Center towers were attacked on 9/11.
21 |
AMBIGUITY
The quality or state of having more than one possible meaning; doubtful;
EQIVOCAL (Word 215)
AMBIGUOUS
Unclear; uncertain; open to more than one interpretation; not definitive; DUBIOUS
The final scene of the movie Inception is full of AMBIGUITY. Leo DiCaprio’s character, Dom
Cobb, is ELATED (very happy) because he has found his children and completed the seemingly
impossible job he was hired to do. But is all this real or is Dom entrapped in yet another dream?
Dom uses a metal top to enable him to determine what is real and what isn’t. At the end of the film,
Dom spins the top. What will happen next? If the top keeps spinning, Dom is dreaming. If it falls,
things are real. We don’t know what happens because the ending is deliberately AMBIGUOUS (See
Know Your Roots, p. 2).
22 |
UPBRAID, REPROACH, CASTIGATE
To express disapproval; to scold; to rebuke; to CENSURE
In this classic scene from Billy Madison, Ms. Vaughn UPBRAIDS Billy for making fun of a third
grade student who is having trouble reading:
Third Grader: Wa-wa-wa-once th-th-th-th-there wa-wa-wa-was a-a-a-a g-g-girl
Billy Madison: Kid can’t even read.
Ernie: Cut it out, dude, you’re gonna get us in trouble.
Billy Madison: T-T-T-Today Junior!
Billy Madison: OW! You’re tearing my ear off!
Veronica Vaughn : Making fun of a little kid for trying to read. Are you psycho? Do you not have a
soul? You keep your mouth shut for the next two weeks or I’m going to fail you. End of story.
23 |
NOSTALGIA< al D6/span>
A WISTFUL (Word 206) sentimental longing for a place or time in the past
A lifelong fan of The Muppets, Jason Segel was NOSTALGIC for his childhood, and he decided to
REJUVENATE (Word 171) the franchise by writing a new movie for them. Segel said, “We set out
to make a Muppet movie that harkened back to the late-’70s, early-‘80s Muppets that we grew up
with.” It’s been over a decade since The Muppets starred in a theatrical movie, and, likewise, in The
Muppets, it’s been a while since Kermit and his friends have performed as a group. As the audience
revisits their childhood icons during this NOSTALGIC film, The Muppets, too, take a WISTFUL
(Word 206) walk down memory lane. The Muppets decide to get their group together again for one
last show, but they discover that they aren’t popular anymore. They have become ANTIQUATED
(Word 25); one character tells them, “You’re RELICS (surviving objects from the past).” By
incorporating clever humor and WISTFUL (Word 206) references to Muppet movies of the past, The
Muppets introduces a new generation to the WHIMSICAL (Word 219) world of Kermit and his
friends while also catering to an older DEMOGRAPHIC’s (Word 433) NOSTALGIA for their
childhood.
24 |
CONJECTURE
An inference based upon guesswork; a SUPPOSITION
What caused the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs? Scientists have offered a number of
CONJECTURES to explain why the Age of Dinosaurs came to an abrupt end. One popular
CONJECTURE suggests that a giant meteor struck Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, causing widespread firestorms, tidal waves, and the severe downpour of acid rain. An alternative
CONJECTURE suggests that massive volcanic eruptions at the Deccan Flats in India caused climate
changes that killed the dinosaurs. While both CONJECTURES are PLAUSIBLE (Word 38),
scientists still lack a definitive explanation.
25 |
OBSOLETE, ARCHAIC, ANTIQUATED
No longer in use; outmoded in design or style
For many years Kodak was the ICONIC (idolized as an object of attention or devotion) leader in the
photo industry. Many of its products became ANTIQUATED and, in the case of camera film, nearly
OBSOLETE. Kodak’s MYOPIC (shortsighted, lacking foresight) business model caused them to be
late in entering the successor market—digital photography.
26 |
AUSPICIOUS, PROPITIOUS
Very favorable< tra >
How long would you wait to marry your true love? The Mogul princes of India were required to wait
until the emperor’s astrologers felt that all of the planetary signs were AUSPICIOUS. For example,
they required Crown Prince Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal to postpone their wedding date for five
years. During that time, the lovers were not allowed to see one another. The long-awaited wedding
finally took place when all of the astrological signs were AUSPICIOUS. The signs must have indeed
been PROPITIOUS because the royal couple enjoyed 19 years of marital joy and happiness.
27 |
GAFFE
A blunder; a faux pas; a clumsy social or diplomatic error
The 2012 Olympic Games provided their share of GAFFES. Just before the soccer events began, it
was learned that the keys to Wembley Stadium had been lost, forcing officials to hastily change all the
locks. It appears that the keys had not been stolen, just misplaced.
Then the North Korean women’s soccer team walked off the field at their opening match when
organizers mistakenly introduced the players displaying South Korea’s flag on the stadium screens.
This was a serious faux pas: the two countries are still technically at war. Only after more than an
hour‘s coaxing, ABJECT (humble) apologies, and the replacement of South Korea’s largely white
flag with images of North Korea’s red banner did the offended North Korean women agree to take the
field.
Another embarrassing blunder occurred when the New Zealand Olympic Committee forgot to register
the defending champion Valerie Adams for the shot put. The GAFFE was spotted before it was too
late, and her name was added to the roster.
28 |
IMPASSE
A deadlock; stalemate; failure to reach an agreement
In The Hunger Games, the Gamemakers change the rules and announce that two tributes from the
same district may win the competition together, so District 12 tributes Katniss and Peeta team up to
defeat the others. When they are the only remaining tributes, the Gamemakers RESCIND (revoke) the
previous rule change and say that only one of them can win in the deadly competition. In response,
Katniss takes some poisonous berries from her pouch and shares them with Peeta; they intend to eat
the berries together rather than fight each other. Katniss and Peeta are at an IMPASSE with the
Gamemakers. They would rather die together than fight, and the Gamemakers want only one victor.
Finally, the Gamemakers are COERCED (Word 273) into allow ing both victors because of Katniss
and Peeta’s suicide threat. They would rather have two winners than none.
29 |
ANACHRONISM
The false assignment of an event, person, scene, or language to a time when the event, person,
scene, or word did not exist
Northern Renaissance artists often included ANACHRONISMS in their paintings. For example, Last
Supper by the 15th century artist Dirk Bouts shows Christ and his disciples eating in a royal palace in
what is today Belgium. While the ANACHRONISM in Bouts’s painting is deliberate, the
ANACHRONISMS in modern movies are unplanned blunders. For example, in the Civil War movie
Glory, a digital watch is clearly visible on the wrist of a boy waving goodbye to the black soldiers of
the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. And in the movie Gladiator, you can see a gas cylinder in the back
of one of the overturned “Roman” chariots!
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
GREEK ROOT:
CHRONO | time
the science of recording events by date
continuing for a long time
happening at the same time
phenomenon of events which coincide in time and appear meaningfully related
SYNCHRONICITY
but have no discoverable causal connection
to cause to go at the same rate or occur at the same time (as a timepiece or a
SYNCHRONIZE
schedule)
a record of events in order of time
CHRONICLE
an historian, as a chronicler of events
CHRONICLER
CHRONOLOGY
CHRONIC
SYNCHRONIC
30 |
BELIE
an historian, as a chronicler of events
I n Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games SAGA (Word 236), Katniss and
Peeta are forced to return to the arena for the Quarter Quell, a special 75th edition of the Hunger
Games, in which they must compete against other previous victors of the Games. They form alliances
with several of the other tributes, including Wiress, an ECCENTRIC (Word 157) woman from
District 3 who rarely speaks in complete sentences. Her UNCONVENTIONAL (Word 7) and
seemingly unbalanced behavior has earned her the nickname “Nuts.” However, her unusual behavior
BELIES an extraordinary intelligence and intuition. She becomes a strong asset to the team, figures
out crucial information concerning the arena’s design, and helps her allies survive in the dangerous
environment of the Games.
31 |
MITIGATE, MOLLIFY, ASSUAGE, ALLEVIATE
To relieve; to lessen; to ease
Did you know that almost half of all Americans take at least one prescription pill every day?
Americans use pills to ALLEVIATE the symptoms of everything from migraine headaches to acid
indigestion.
Stephen Douglas believed that the doctrine of popular sovereignty would MITIGATE, or lessen, the
public’s passions against the extension of slavery into the territories. But Douglas badly misjudged
the public mood in the North. Instead of MOLLIFYING the public, popular sovereignty inflamed
passions and helped propel the nation toward the Civil War.
32 |
COVET
To strongly desire; to crave
COVETOUS
Grasping, greedy, eager to obtain something; AVARICIOUS (Word 255)
What do Lord Voldemort ( Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), The Wicked Witch of the West
(Wizard of Oz ), and Megatron (Transformers) all have in common? All three villains are
COVETOUS of something they desperately want but can’t have. Lord Voldemort COVETS the
Elder Wand, the Wicked Witch of the West COVETS Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers, and Megatron
COVETS the All Spark.
33 |
ANTITHESIS
The direct or exact opposite; extreme contrast; ANTIPODE
ANTITHETICAL
Exactly opposite; ANTIPODAL
In her song “You Belong With Me,” Taylor Swift cannot FATHOM (understand) why a guy she likes
continues to go out with a girl who is his complete ANTITHESIS. Their tastes in music and sense of
humor are ANTITHETICAL. But Taylor recognizes that her rival is a cheer captain who “wears
short skirts” while Taylor sits in the bleachers and “wears t-shirts. All Taylor can do is hope that the
guy will have an EPIPHANY (Word 327) and realize that they belong together.
34 |
PROTOTYPE
An original model; an initial design
What do the Model T and The Bat in The Dark Knight Rises have in common? Although very
different vehicles, both were originally designed to be PROTOTYPES. The Model T, invented by
Henry Ford in 1908, served as the PROTOTYPE for the world’s first affordable, mass-produced
automobile. The Bat, created by Luciuslef tf Fox at Wayne Enterprises, was a PROTOTYPE for a
flying tank military vehicle, but it helped Batman save Gotham from Bane and his men.
35 |
ALOOF
Detached; distant physically or emotionally; reserved; standing near but apart
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald initially portrays Jay Gatsby as the ALOOF host of lavish parties
given every week at his ORNATE (Word 397) mansion. Although he is courted by powerful men and
beautiful women, Gatsby chooses to remain distant and ALOOF.
In Homer’s Iliad, many people accused Zeus of “wanting to give victory to the Trojans.” But Zeus
chose to remain ALOOF: “He sat apart in his all-glorious majesty, looking down upon the Trojans,
the ships of the Achaeans, the gleam of bronze, and alike upon the slayers and the slain.”
36 |
TRITE, HACKNEYED, BANAL, PLATITUDINOUS, INSIPID
Unoriginal; commonplace; overused; CLICHÉD
In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield just can’t help seeing most people as “phony”—his
favorite word. When he goes to hear Ernie, the jazz piano player, he thinks of the playing as BANAL:
so lacking in originality that it is almost boring. He sees straight through his headmaster’s
PLATITUDE that “Life is a game,” understanding the message to be TRITE, unoriginal, and lacking
freshness. Many people who read The Catcher in the Rye today think of Holden Caulfield’s very
character as HACKNEYED, because he represents a character we have seen all too many times: the
moody, DISAFFECTED (disconnected), disgruntled teenager. But back in 1951, when the novel was
first published, Salinger’s portrait of a young person was considered SEARINGLY (scorchingly)
original.
Paula Abdul, the former American Idol and X-Factor judge, was known for being nice and
AFFABLE (Word 18), always saying something positive to the contestants. Although Paula was nice,
her comments were TRITE, BANAL, and HACKNEYED. According to PLATITUDINOUS Paula,
every singer was “great,” ”beautiful,” and “amazing.” She encouraged each one with pleasant but
INSIPID compliments like “You’re authentic,” “America loves you,” and “Your journey of magic is
just beginning.”
37 |
ANTECEDENT
A preceding event; a FORERUNNER; a PRECURSOR
ignify">Many critics have noted that the 1995 Disney movie Pocahontas can be viewed as a
thematic ANTECEDENT to the 2010 blockbuster Avatar. In Pocahontas, AVARICIOUS (Word
255) English settlers search for gold. In Avatar, an AVARICIOUS company wants to mine
unobtanium from the fictional planet Pandora. In both movies beautiful INDIGENOUS (Word 47)
women rescue soldiers who find themselves drawn to the native peoples they originally intended to
conquer. By helping Captain John Smith discover the New World’s life and beauty, Pocahontas
serves as an ANTECEDENT for Avatar’s Neytiri.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
GREEK PREFIX:
ANTE | before
ANTEBELLUM before the Civil War
ANTEDILUVIAN before the Biblical flood, a hyperbolic word describing something extremely old
to precede in time
ANTEDATE
a waiting room outside a larger room
ANTEROOM
before in time and place
ANTERIOR
38 |
PLAUSIBLE
Believable; credible
IMPLAUSIBLE
Unbelievable; incredible
Let’s play PLAUSIBLE or IMPLAUSIBLE:
In the Bourne Ultimatum, Jason Bourne successfully breaks into Noah Vosen’s heavily-guarded topsecurity office and steals an entire set of classified Blackbriar documents. PLAUSIBLE or
IMPLAUSIBLE? PLAUSIBLE—because he is Jason Bourne!
I n The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow
successfully save New York City from an extraterrestrial attack and a nuclear missile. PLAUSIBLE
or IMPLAUSIBLE? PLAUSIBLE—because The Avengers all have special skills and powers that
allow them to defeat their foes!
39 |
PRUDENT
Careful; cautious; sensible
In the Twilight SAGA (Word 236), Bella Swan is a high school student who meets and falls in love
with Edward Cullen. However, Edward is not just another high school student. He is a 107-year-old
vampire who stopped aging physically at 17. Edward understands that their rel="M Tationship poses
grave dangers to Bella. However, Bella and Edward love each other, so they decide to stay together
despite the danger. Together, they must be PRUDENT in dealing with the dangers that they face,
among them werewolves, vengeful vampires, and the OMINOUS (Word 197) Volturi.
40 |
AESTHETIC
Relating to the nature of beauty, art, and taste; having a sense of what is beautiful,
attractive, or pleasing
Do you know why the Mona Lisa is considered one of the most beautiful paintings of all time? The
answer lies in its use of the Golden Ratio, the naturally occurring ratio of height to width that is most
AESTHETICALLY pleasing to humans. The Mona Lisa’s face is composed entirely of Golden
Ratio rectangles and thus adds to the overall AESTHETIC of the painting. However, the Golden
Ratio is not limited to art. Examples can be found in ancient Greek architecture, Egyptian pyramids,
biology, and even widescreen television screens!
It is not AESTHETICALLY pleasing if a character introduced at the very end solves a novel or
play’s conflicts. Aristotle criticized Euripides’ play Medea for having Medea saved at the end by a
character not integral to the plot. To his mind, AESTHETICALLY this was not a satisfying
conclusion.
41 |
PARADOX
A seemingly contradictory statement that nonetheless expresses a truth
One of the most famous literary first lines is that of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities : “It was
the best of times, it was the worst of times.” How could such a contradiction be true? In the course of
the book, this PARADOXICAL statement is shown to be valid.
In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, the creature encounters many PARADOXES. One is the
simultaneous positive and negative characteristics of fire. It can warm him, protect him, light his way,
and cook his food, but it can also burn and destroy. Similarly, the creature also comes to recognize
the PARADOXICAL nature of man: driven by conflicting forces of selfishness and ALTRUISM
(Word 20).
42 |
ENIGMATIC, INSCRUTABLE
Mysterious; puzzling; unfathomable; baffling
What do Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Fitzgerald’s description of Jay Gatsby, and J.K. Rowling’s portrayal
of Snape have in common? All three figures are ENIGMATIC. The Mona Lisa’ s ENIGMATIC
smile has puzzled art lovers for centuries. When The Great Gatsby opens, Jay Gatsby is an
ENIGMATIC figu IN tre whose great wealth and extravagant parties spark endless gossip. And
Snape’s personality and loyalties remain INSCRUTABLE until the final chapters of Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows.
43 |
ACQUIESCE
To comply; agree; give in
In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth Swann and Captain Barbossa
conduct negotiations that include long words.
Elizabeth Swann: Captain Barbossa, I am here to negotiate the cessation of hostilities against Port
Royal.
Captain Barbossa: There be a lot of long words in there, Miss. We’re naught but humble pirates.
What is it that you want?
Elizabeth Swann: I want you to leave and never come back.
Captain Barbossa: I’m disinclined to ACQUIESCE to your request. Means no!
Although he is a “humble pirate,” Captain Barbossa can use long words as well as she can.
44 |
NAÏVE, GULLIBLE
Unaffectedly simple; lacking worldly expertise; overly CREDULOUS;
unsophisticated; immature; inexperienced; INGENUOUS (Word 428)
Nemo, of Finding Nemo, is a young clown fish who thinks he is old enough to swim out in the open
waters. Young, NAÏVE, and wanting to defy his overprotective father, he wanders too near a boat.
Suddenly, a net surrounds him. He is taken aboard the boat and from there to Sydney, Australia, to
live in a fish tank. His father Marlin, DESPONDENT (Word 176) at his loss, vows to find his son.
Marlin succeeds and ultimately brings Nemo back home. By the end of the film, Nemo has learned the
importance of obeying his father and of not being so GULLIBLE.
45 |
AUTONOMY
Independence; self-governance
AUTONOMOUS
Acting independently, or having the freedom to do so; not controlled by others
Fahrenheit 451, the classic novel by Ray Bradbury, imagines a DYSTOPIA (an imaginery society
characterized by oppression and human misery) society in which a faceless government exerts huge
control over its citizens. No books are allowed; instead, citizens watch endless television streams of
PROPAGANDA (zealous advancement of a group’s principles) from the government. Bradbury’s
novel suggests that people naturally den
AUTONOMY in their own lives; if a faceless government tries to exert authority over them, they
will tend to be SUBVERSIVE (tending to overthrow), and rebel against that authority.
In the movie Men in Black, Agent Zed explains that MIB is an AUTONOMOUS organization that is
“not a part of the system.” He goes on to say that MIB is “above the system, over it, beyond it; we are
they, we are them, we are the Men in Black.” They are serious about their AUTONOMY!
46 |
FUTILE
Completely useless; doomed to failure; in vain
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill released a PRODIGIOUS (huge, massive) flood of crude oil into
the Gulf of Mexico. BP engineers made repeated attempts to control or stop the spill. However, all of
their initial efforts proved to be FUTILE. Although crews worked tirelessly to protect hundreds of
miles of beaches, wetlands, and estuaries, local residents worried that these efforts would also prove
to be FUTILE.
47 |
INDIGENOUS, ENDEMIC
Native to an area
Which of the following are Old World plants and animals, and which are New World plants and
animals: potatoes, tomatoes, maize, sunflowers, cocoa beans, turkeys, and buffaloes? Surprisingly, all
of these plants and animals are INDIGENOUS or ENDEMIC to the New World!
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
GREEK ROOT:
DEM, DEMO | the people
PANDEMIC (Word
49)
DEMOCRACY
DEMAGOGUE
(Word 111)
DEMOGRAPHICS
(Word 433)
EPIDEMIC
of all the people, prevalent over a whole area
rule by the people, by the majority
a person who tries to stir up the people by appealing to emotion and
prejudice in order to achieve selfish ends
the science of vital statistics about populations (births, deaths, marriages,
incomes, etc.)
a rapid spread of a contagious disease or other negative condition
48 |
UBIQUITOUS, PREVALENT
Characterized by being everywhere; omnipresent; widespread; PERVASIVE
What do cell phones, iPods, Starbuctab Tks coffee shops, and McDonald’s fast-food restaurants have
in common? They are all UBIQUITOUS—we see them everywhere. Popular fashions are also
PERVASIVE. For example, baggy knee-length shorts have completely replaced the
once-PREVALENT short shorts of the 1970s. From high school b-ballers to WNBA and NBA
superstars, long shorts are now UBIQUITOUS.
49 |
PANDEMIC
An epidemic that is geographically widespread and affects a large proportion of the
population
In the movie I Am Legend, a manmade virus known as KV triggers a global PANDEMIC that kills
almost all of the human population on Earth. While there has never been a real PANDEMIC of this
magnitude, virus strains and diseases have caused widespread deaths. In 1347 the Black Plague
killed as many as one-third of the people in Europe. In the 16th century, Spanish conquistadores
spread small pox and other diseases that DECIMATED (destroyed a great proportion of) the
INDIGENOUS (Word 47) populations in Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Our own
times have not been immune to epidemics. The 1918 flu PANDEMIC killed 50 to 100 million
people, and more recently we have had SARS, Asian Bird Flu, and Swine Flu PANDEMICS.
PANDEMIC can also be used as an adjective, meaning PREVALENT (Word 48) over a large area.
50 |
FORTITUDE
Strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage
William Lloyd Garrison and Rosa Parks demonstrated great personal FORTITUDE. While most
Americans accepted slavery, Garrison boldly demanded the immediate and unconditional
emancipation of all slaves. Although initially ignored, Garrison PERSEVERED (refused to give up
no matter the situation) and lived to see President Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Rosa
Parks also illustrates the principle that FORTITUDE is needed to achieve difficult goals. While
most Americans accepted segregation, Rosa refused a bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a
white passenger. Her historic action helped GALVANIZE (Word 148) the Civil Rights Movement.
Chapter 2 continues to build the list of 100 Core Vocabulary Words. As in Chapter 1, each of these
words has been the key to a Level 3 or Level 4 question. We EXHORT (Word 53) you to study
hard. As always, our PENCHANT (Word 62) for vivid pop culture examples will help you learn
and remember new words. So don’t let the Core Words THWART (Word 67) you. Now is the time
t o TENACIOUSLY (Word 56) pursue your goal of conquering the SAT. Remember, there is
INCONTROVERTIBLE (Word 70) proof that your Critic heal Reading score will go up as your
vocabulary goes up!
51 |
DIMINUTIVE
Very small
The 2012 Summer Olympics coverage featured the latest team of DIMINUTIVE gymnasts, five
American girls who averaged 16 years old, 5’1” tall, and 104 pounds, and who performed astounding
feats of strength, agility, and precision. Led by Gabby Douglas, who also took first place in the
individual all-around event, the DIMINUTIVE Fab Five brought home the women’s team gold medal
for the first time since 1996. Gabby, at 4’11’ and 90 pounds the most DIMINUTIVE of the bunch,
was dubbed “the flying squirrel” by Marta Karolyi, the U.S. national team coordinator. Given the
rigors of the intense training, the high incidence of injuries, and the other sacrifices required in order
to reach the highest level of the sport, women gymnasts have a short shelf life. But in August 2012,
DIMINUTIVE Gabby Douglas won the hearts of Americans everywhere.
52 |
TRIVIAL
Trifling; unimportant; insignificant
MINUTIAE
Minor everyday details
Drake is one of the world’s most popular hip hop artists. While Drake would prefer to concentrate on
creating music, his zealous fans often focus on interesting but TRIVIAL MINUTIAE about his
personal life. For example, Drake was raised by a Jewish mother and had a Bar Mitzvah. And online
rumors continue to link him with Rihanna!
53 |
EXHORT
To encourage; urge; give a pep talk; IMPLORE
American League baseball player Derek Jeter has spent his entire career with the New York
Yankees. Naturally, New York fans love him. When Jeter began to approach the COVETED (Word
32) 3,000 hit milestone, his teammates and fans EXHORTED him to continue to play well so he
could reach the ELUSIVE (Word 161) milestone. The EXHORTATIONS worked. On July 9, 2011
he became the first New York Yankee to reach the 3,000 hit mark. Even sweeter, his 3,000th hit was
a home run!
54 |
ANTIPATHY
Strong dislike; ill will; the state of DETESTING someone; ENMITY; RANCOR
In The Social Network,< League f Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their business partner, Divya
Narendra, approached Mark Zuckerberg with an idea they called “HarvardConnection,” an online
social network exclusively for Harvard University students and alumni.
Zuckerberg broke his agreement with the HarvardConnection team and approached his friend
Eduardo Saverin about a nearly identical website idea called “Thefacebook.” The first website to
allow the entire campus to communicate and socialize with ease, Thefacebook skyrocketed
in popularity.
Can you imagine the ANTIPATHY that the Winklevoss brothers and Narendra felt upon seeing their
idea becoming successful without them? In the movie scene, Narendra discovered Zuckerberg’s
Thefacebook, slammed his laptop closed, and, filled with ENMITY, stormed out of the room to
inform the Winklevoss brothers of Zuckerberg’s betrayal.
55 |
DIGRESS
To depart from a subject; wander; ramble
Have you ever listened to someone who repeatedly wanders off a topic? If so, then you know how
confusing and annoying it is when a speaker DIGRESSES from a subject. In the movie Office Space,
Milton is NOTORIOUS (widely but unfavorably known) for his long-winded DIGRESSIONS.
DIGRESSING is not limited to speaking. Writers sometimes DIGRESS or wander off a topic. On
the SAT I, your first task will be to write an essay. Readers reward essays that are well-organized
and deduct points from essays that DIGRESS from the topic.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN ROOT:
GRESS | to step
PROGRESS to step forward
to step back
REGRESS
TRANSGRESS to step across the line that divides right from wrong
to step out, to exit (or as a noun, an exit)
EGRESS
AGGRESSIVE tending to attack, encroach, or step on others
56 |
TENACIOUS
Characterized by holding fast to something valued; showing great determination
The 2006 film Amazing Grace tells the story of the 20-year campaign against the British slave trade
led by the TENACIOUS Member of Parliament William Wilberforce. Through Wilberforce’s
TENACITY and determination, the battle CULMINATED (reached completion) in the 1807 bill that
abolished the slave trade in the British Empire. Though the film is not totally accurate historically,
itidt TCU does make the inspiring point of the effectiveness of sheer TENACITY in the face of
almost impossible odds.
Think too about the TENACITY of a dog with a bone, never letting go. That might remind you of the
word DOGGED (pronounced with two syllables), which means having the TENACITY of a dog.
You can also use TENACIOUSNESS instead of TENACITY; they mean the same thing.
Tip for a Direct Hit
The root of TENACIOUS is the Latin root TEN, “to hold.” You can find it in TENET, an
opinion, idea, or principle HELD true by a person or organization. It’s also in TENABLE,
which means capable of being HELD, defended, and logically supported, as in a TENABLE
argument or thesis.
57 |
INDULGENT
Characterized by excessive generosity; overly tolerant
In the movie Mean Girls, Regina George’s mother prides herself on being INDULGENT. She
proudly tells Regina and Cady, “I just want you to know, if you ever need anything, don’t be shy, OK?
There are NO rules in the house. I’m not like a ‘regular’ mom. I’m a ‘cool’ mom.” Mrs. George
should have said, “I’m a super-INDULGENT mom who lets Regina do anything she wishes.”
58 |
POLARIZE
To create disunity or dissension; to break up into opposing factions or groups; to be
DIVISIVE
Americans have a long and distinguished record of settling differences by reaching a compromise.
However, some issues are so DIVISIVE and POLARIZING that a compromise is impossible.
Before the Civil War, the issue of slavery POLARIZED Americans into two groups: those who
defended the South’s “peculiar institution” and those who demanded that slavery be abolished. As
Lincoln eloquently noted: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government
cannot endure permanently half slave and half free.”
59 |
NEBULOUS
Vague; cloudy; misty; lacking a fully developed form
Have you read the Epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? If you found it rather vague,
then J.K. Rowling achieved her goal. In an interview, Rowling stated that the Epilogue is deliberately
“NEBULOUS.” She wanted readers to feel as if they were looking at Platform 9 3/4 through the mist,
unable to make out exactly who was there and who was not.
alf t9
60 |
ANALOGY
A similarity or likeness between things—events, ideas, actions, trends—that are
otherwise unrelated
ANALOGOUS
Comparable or similar in certain respects
Did you know that for most of its history the SAT included a number of ANALOGY questions? For
example, students were asked to see the ANALOGY or similarity between a tree and a forest and a
star and a galaxy. The ANALOGY is that a tree is part of a forest in the same way that a star is part
of a galaxy. Although the College Board removed analogies in 2005, SAT test writers still expect
students to recognize ANALOGIES in critical readings. Don’t be confused by the phrase “is most
ANALOGOUS to.” The question is asking you to identify a situation or example that is most similar
to the one in the reading passage.
61 |
EPHEMERAL, FLEETING, EVANESCENT
Very brief; lasting for a short time; transient
PERENNIAL
Returning year after year; enduring
What do the following groups and their hit songs have in common: “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by Baha
Men, “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel, and “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather
Girls? All three groups were “one-hit wonders” who had a single hit song and then disappeared.
Their popularity was EVANESCENT. They were EPHEMERAL—here today and gone tomorrow.
On the contrary, bands like The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Simon & Garfunkel have remained
PERENNIAL favorites. The Beatles’ albums continue to be bestsellers on iTunes. The Beach Boys
still maintain a busy tour schedule, and the songs of Simon & Garfunkel remain staples of popular
culture. Paul Simon was even asked to perform their hit song “The Sound of Silence” at the 9/11 tenth
anniversary memorial service. All three of these bands have maintained immense popularity
throughout the decades.
62 |
PENCHANT, PREDILECTION, PROPENSITY
A liking or preference for something; a BENT (Word 299); an INCLINATION
What do film star Angelina Jolie and rap artist Lil Wayne have in common? Both have a well-known
PENCHANT for tattoos. Angelina’s tattoos include a prayer of Buddhist Sanskrit symbols to honor
her first adopted son, Maddox, coordinates representing the geographic neddddntain ave locations of
her children’s birthplaces, and the statement “know your rights.” Lil Wayne’s PREDILECTION for
tattoos has led him to cover his face and torso with tattoos. For example, a red tattoo above his right
eyebrow states, “I am music,” emphasizing his love of music. The numbers 9 27 82 on his right
forearm are his date of birth.
63 |
CAPRICIOUS, MERCURIAL, FICKLE
Very changeable; characterized by constantly-shifting moods
When the gossip magazine Us Weekly published a story and photos of Twilight’s Kristen Stewart
cheating on her boyfriend Robert Pattinson, passionate Twilight fans responded in disbelief on their
Twitter accounts. The outraged fans LAMBASTED (Word 310) the magazine and insisted that the
photos of Stewart were fake. However, Stewart released a statement apologizing for her “momentary
indiscretion” and declaring her love for Pattinson. The FICKLE fans turned CAPRICIOUSLY from
supporting Stewart to CASTIGATING (severely criticizing ) her and mourning the end of their
favorite celebrity couple. Fans added MAUDLIN (Word 142) videos and social media posts online,
BEMOANING (to express grief over) the breakup of “Robsten.”
Medieval Humours
In medieval times, it was believed that people’s personalities or moods were determined
by the relative amounts of the four bodily fluids (or HUMOURS) in their bodies. Though
we no longer believe in the physiological basis, we still use the words to describe people.
Predominant Fluid
Blood
Black bile
Yellow bile
Phlegm
Fluctuating among all four
fluids
Temperament Aspects
SANGUINE
cheerful, hopeful, optimistic
MELANCHOLY gloomy, depressed, DESPONDENT, PENSIVE
CHOLERIC
angry, irritable, IRASCIBLE
self-possessed, imperturbable, calm, APATHETIC,
PHLEGMATIC
sluggish
MERCURIAL
volatile, changeable, FICKLE
64 |
BOORISH, UNCOUTH, CRASS
Vulgar; characterized by crude behavior and deplorable manners; unrefined
Billy Madison (Billy Madison), Ron Burgundy (Anchorman), Borat (Borat), and Ben Stone
(Knocked Up) all demonstrated BOORISH manners and behaviors. However, none of these
UNCOUTH characters quite equaled Bluto in Animal House. In a classic scene, Bluto piled food
onto h" tttt Tis cafeteria plate while stuffing food in his pockets. He then sat down uninvited at a
cafeteria table. Disgusted by Bluto’s outrageous appearance and CRASS manners, Mandy called him
a “P-I-G, pig.” Undeterred by Mandy’s insult, Bluto stuffed mashed potatoes into his mouth and asked
Mandy and her INCREDULOUS (Word 363) friends, “See if you can guess what I am now.” He then
pressed his hands against his cheeks, causing the mashed potatoes to spray onto the shocked diners.
Pleased with his BOORISH antics, Bluto proudly answered his own question by announcing, “I’m a
zit! Get it?”
65 |
INDIGNANT
Characterized by outrage at something that is perceived as unjust
What do Andrew Jackson’s supporters in 1824 and Al Gore’s supporters in 2000 have in common?
Both were INDIGNANT at the outcomes of presidential elections. Following the election of 1824,
Andrew Jackson’s INDIGNANT supporters accused John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay of stealing
the election from Old Hickory. Following the election of 2000, Al Gore’s INDIGNANT supporters
accused George W. Bush and the U.S. Supreme Court of stealing the election from Gore.
66 |
INNUENDO
A veiled reference; an insinuation
At the beginning of The Godfather, Kay does not understand the workings of the Corleone family
business, and she asks Michael how his father managed a business deal. Michael responds with an
INNUENDO: “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.” His response insinuates that Don
Vito uses coercion and threats in his business dealings. Michael’s INNUENDO suggests that his
father is a powerful mob boss.
67 |
THWART, STYMIE
To stop; to frustrate; to prevent
In the Harry Potter SAGA (Word 236) Lilly Potter’s love THWARTED Lord Voldemort’s attempt
to kill her one-year-old son, Harry. With the help of Ron and Hermione, Harry repeatedly
THWARTED the Dark Lord’s attempts to kill him.
At the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I, which CULMINATED (concluded) in the
Treaty of Versailles, most of President Woodrow Wilson’s proposals for a “Just Peace” were
THWARTED by the other world leaders, who were more interested in RETRIBUTION
(punishment, vengeance). They did approve his plan for a League of Nations, which he hoped would
be able to prevent future wars. When Wilson presented the treaty to the U.S. Senate, there was much
opposition. The treaty went down to defeat, Wilson’s efforts were again STYMIED, and the weak
League of Nations never achieved its goals, lacking the participatihe tton of the world’s newest
superpower.
After the CHICANERY (Word 339) that came to light in 2011, new security measures have been
implemented by both the SAT and the ACT to STYMIE those who might wish to take an exam for
someone else. Students will now be required to upload a photo of themselves when registering for
these exams. The photos will appear on the students’ admission tickets and on the test site rosters
available to proctors. Then the photos will be attached to any score reports sent to high schools and
colleges.
68 |
ADROIT, DEFT, ADEPT
Having or showing great skill; DEXTEROUS; nimble
What do 16-year-old Austin Wierschke and action star Chuck Norris have in common? Austin has
DEXTEROUS hands, and Chuck has ADROIT legs. Austin won the U.S. National Texting
Championship two years in a row. He beat out 11 other finalists by DEFTLY texting blindfolded,
texting with his hands behind his back, and by enduring rounds of marathon texting. As everyone
knows, Chuck Norris is ADEPT at using a roundhouse kick to escape even the toughest situations. In
fact, it is rumored that if someone were DEFT enough to harness the energy from a Chuck Norris
roundhouse kick, he or she could power the entire country of Australia for 44 minutes.
Tip for a Direct Hit
Are you right-handed or lefthanded? Right-handed people were once thought to be more
ADROIT and DEXTEROUS than left-handed people. This bias can be seen in the
etymology of these two words. The English word ADROIT is actually derived from the
French word droit meaning right, as opposed to left. So if you are MALADROIT, you are
not skillful. The ancient Romans shared the same positive view of right-handed people.
The Latin word dexter means right, as opposed to left.
69 |
ADMONISH
To earnestly caution; to warn another to avoid a course of action
First sung in November 1934, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” celebrates Santa’s much-anticipated
arrival on Christmas Eve. However, while Santa may be very MUNIFICENT (Word 258), he is also
very VIGILANT (watchful, alert). He keeps a list, and he knows “who’s naughty or nice.” The song
earnestly ADMONISHES children to “be good for goodness sake.”
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN ROOT:
MON | to warn, remind
ADMONITION a warning or reproof, a reminder
PREMONITION a warning in advance, PRESENTIMENT (hint) of something evil, foreboding
a person or a device that reminds or checks (like a study hall monitor, a heart
MONITOR
monitor, or an audio monitor for performers on a stage)
a sepulchre, memorial , edifice to commemorate something or someone notable,
MONUMENT
something that reminds (literally)
70 |
INCONTROVERTIBLE
Impossible to deny or disprove; demonstrably true
In recent years the global warming debate has grown increasingly heated (no pun intended),
politicized, and POLARIZED (Word 58). Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, presented
statistics that many people challenge. But it is becoming clear that global warming is an
INCONTROVERTIBLE fact. What is less clear has been the cause of the climatic changes. Many
CONCEDE (admit) the existence of the trend but claim that the current trend is merely part of a
natural METEOROLOGICAL (having to do with weather) cycle. Others lay the blame on humans’
emission of greenhouse gases. According to Richard A. Muller, a former SKEPTIC (Word 102)
whose Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project has persuaded him of human CULPABILITY
(blameworthiness) in global warming, the changes are too great to be ASCRIBED (attributed) to
urban heating, solar activity, world population, normal fluctuations, or manipulation of data. Only
changes in the carbon dioxide curve match the changes in world temperatures. So, the SKEPTIC has
been persuaded that man is, INCONTROVERTIBLY, playing a part in the climate changes we are
now experiencing.
71 |
VORACIOUS, RAVENOUS, RAPACIOUS
Having a huge appetite that cannot be satisfied; INSATIABLE
What do Homer (The Simpsons), Bluto (Animal House), and Scooby-Doo (Scooby Do! Mystery
Incorporated) have in common? All three have VORACIOUS appetites. Homer has an
INSATIABLE appetite for frosted doughnuts. Bluto regularly and RAPACIOUSLY piles great
quantities of food on his plate. Scooby has a RAVENOUS appetite for Scooby Snacks, and he
habitually sneaks food from the plates of his friends.
72 |
CALLOUS
Emotionally hardened; insensitive; unfeeling
In the movie Mean Girls, the Plastics CALLOUSLY mistreat their classmat appppp D:es. They even
keep a “Burn Book” filled with CALLOUS INNUENDOES (Word 66) and SARCASTIC (Word 3)
putdowns.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, Tom Buchanan CALLOUSLY ruins the lives of
four people (Daisy, Gatsby, Myrtle, and George) while recklessly pursuing his own selfish pleasures.
73 |
INTREPID, UNDAUNTED
Courageous, RESOLUTE (Word 359), and fearless
What do Luke Skywalker and Charles Lindbergh have in common? Both were INTREPID pilots who
were UNDAUNTED by seemingly impossible odds. In the movie Star Wars: Episode IV, Luke was
UNDAUNTED by the Empire’s seemingly invincible Death Star. The INTREPID Skywalker
destroyed the Death Star with well-aimed proton torpedoes.
The American aviator Charles Lindbergh was also UNDAUNTED by a seemingly impossible task.
Despite several attempts, no pilot had successfully flown across the Atlantic. In 1927, the
INTREPID Lindbergh electrified the world by flying his single-engine plane, the Spirit of St. Louis,
from New York to Paris in a grueling 33-hour and 39-minute flight.
74 |
NONCHALANT
Having an air of casual indifference; coolly unconcerned; UNFLAPPABLE
When you are driving, do you slow down for a yellow light and promptly stop for a red light? We
hope so. While careful and law-abiding drivers follow these rules of the road, not all drivers do.
Italian drivers are famous for their NONCHALANT attitude toward yellow and even red lights. One
typical Italian cab driver NONCHALANTLY explained that lights are merely advisory: “Everyone
drives through yellow lights and fresh red ones. It is no big deal.” Needless to say, we hope you will
not take such a NONCHALANT attitude.
75 |
CONVOLUTED
Winding, twisting, and therefore difficult to understand; intricate
What do the Electoral College and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) have in common? Both
require a CONVOLUTED process to choose a winner. The Electoral College requires a
CONVOLUTED process to choose a President, and the BCS requires a CONVOLUTED process
to choose two football teams to play for the national championship.
76 |
ITINERANT
Migrating from place to place; NOT SEDENTARY
During the Great Awakening, George Whitefield and other ITINERANT ministers touring the
Colonies preached their message of human helplessness and divine OMNIPOTENCE (infinite
power). Today, many movie stars also live ITINERANT lives. For example, during the last six
years, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have lived in 15 homes all over the world, including Paris,
Prague, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Berlin, Namibia, India, and New York City. Jolie enjoys her
ITINERANT lifestyle and says that it is important to experience a variety of cultures.
77 |
POIGNANT
Moving; touching; heartrending
In the movie Remember the Titans, Gerry Bertier and Julius Campbell are forced to become
teammates on the racially-divided T.C. Williams High School football team. Although originally
bitter rivals, they overcome their prejudices and become close friends. When Julius visits the
paralyzed Gerry in the hospital, the nurse bars Julius, who is black, from the room, saying, “Only
kin’s allowed in here.” But Gerry corrects her: “Alice, are you blind? Don’t you see the family
resemblance? That’s my brother.” This POIGNANT scene brought tears to the eyes of many viewers.
78 |
IMPETUS
A stimulus or encouragement that results in increased activity
Lord Voldemort’s resurrection at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire provided the
IMPETUS for the revival of the Order of the Phoenix and the formation of Dumbledore’s Army.
Although it was a failure, Shays’ Rebellion in 1786 alarmed key American colonial leaders, thus
providing the IMPETUS for calling a convention to revise and strengthen the Articles of
Confederation.
79 |
BUCOLIC, RUSTIC, PASTORAL
Characteristic of charming, unspoiled countryside and the simple, rural life
Americans have always been proud of our country’s great natural beauty. During the early 19th
century, a group of artists known as the Hudson River School specialized in painting the RUSTIC
beauty of America’s unspoiled lands cape. Today, many students are attracted to the PASTORAL
beauty of campuses located in small towns. For example, one writer described Blacksburg, Virginia,
the home of Virginia Tech, as “a quaint, off-the-beaten-track, BUCOLIC college town nestled in the
mountains of southwest Virginia.”
80 |Iin /span>
EQUANIMITY
Calmness; composure; even-temperedness; poise
George Washington, the great Father of America, was known for his EQUANIMITY. He maintained
composure no matter what happened around him. Faced with the dangers of battle during the
Revolutionary War, Washington remained even-tempered and unflappable. His ability to maintain
composure in the heat of battle encouraged his troops to follow and respect him, even during the most
devastating times in the Revolution. His EQUANIMITY made him an indispensable leader in the
early years of the fledgling nation.
81 |
PANACHE, VERVE, FLAMBOYANCE, ÉLAN (Word 316)
Great vigor and energy; dash, especially in artistic performance and composition
During the Middle Ages, proud European military commanders often placed feathers or a plume in
their helmets as they rode into battle. Known as a panache, the feathers and plumes helped troops
identify their commander but also made him an easier target for enemy arrows and bullets. Given the
risk, it took real courage for a commander to wear a panache.
Today the word PANACHE no longer refers to feathers or a plume. But PANACHE still retains its
sense of VERVE or dash. PANACHE is now most frequently used to refer to FLAMBOYANT
entertainers. For example, Lady Gaga is one of the music world’s most FLAMBOYANT performers.
82 |
PROVOCATIVE
Provoking discussion; stimulating controversy; arousing a reaction
Prior to World War I, young women aspired to seem modest and maidenly. But that changed during
the Roaring Twenties. Once DEMURE (modest) maidens now PROVOCATIVELY proclaimed
their new freedom by becoming “flappers.” Flappers shocked their elders by dancing the Charleston
and wearing one-piece bathing suits. Dismayed by this PROVOCATIVE clothing, officials at some
beaches insisted on measuring the length of the bathing suits to make sure that they did not reveal too
much of the women’s legs. In today’s world, this notion of PROVOCATIVE would seem
ARCHAIC (Word 25)!
83 |
PLACID, SERENE
Calm or quiet; undisturbed by tumult or disorder
What do the Pacific Ocean and the SAT word PLACID have in common? When the legendary
explorer Ferdinand Magellan left the Strait of Magellan, he entered an immense and as yet unexplored
body of water that he describethaaaaaa tgd as a Mare Pacificum or “peaceful sea.”
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN PREFIX:
PLAC | to quiet, to soothe, pacify, please
unappeasable, inexorable
IMPLACABLE
to appease or calm someone’s anger
PLACATE
calm, quiet
PLACID
self-satisfied, smug
COMPLACENT
COMPLAISANT (Word 335) disposed to please (note French plaisir), affable, gracious
84 |
FORTUITOUS
Of accidental but fortunate occurrence; having unexpected good fortune
In the fall of 1862, the South appeared to be on the verge of victory in the Civil War. Following a
brilliant triumph at the Second Battle of Bull Run, General Robert E. Lee boldly invaded Maryland.
In war, however, decisive battles are often determined as much by FORTUITOUS accident as by
carefully-planned strategy. As Lee’s army st eadily advanced, a Union corporal discovered a bulky
envelope lying in the grass near a shade tree. Curious, he picked it up and discovered three cigars
wrapped in a piece of paper containing Lee’s secret battle plans. This FORTUITOUS discovery
played a key role in enabling the Union forces to win a pivotal victory at the Battle of Antietam.
85 |
DISPEL
To drive away; scatter, as to DISPEL a misconception
The first administration of the SAT occurred in 1901, and since then quite a few myths have arisen.
We’re here to DISPEL a couple of misconceptions you might have.
Myth: The SAT is a reasoning test; you can’t study for it.
Absolutely not! The book you’re holding right now, Direct Hits, can help you ace the sentence
completions and boost your critical reading score.
Myth: It’s always better to leave a question blank than to guess on the SAT.
Not necessarily. You receive a full point for correct answers, gain zero points for incorrect answers,
and lose a quarter point for incorrect answers. But if you can eliminate one or two incorrect answers
in a multiple choice, your odds of answering correctly improve dramatically.
On the sentence completions section, if you see a Direct Hits word in the answer choices, but you’re
sure it’s not the correct answer (an indirect hit), you can eliminate this answer and greatly improve
your chanan filepos-id="filepos139526">>>>>>>might n="justces of guessing correctly.
To further DISPEL this misconception, remember what Wayne Gretzky says: “You miss 100 percent
of the shots you don’t take.”
86 |
AMALGAM
A mixture; a blend; a combination of different elements
Rap star Ludacris’ name is actually an AMALGAM. He combined his
birth name Cris and his radio handle Luda to COIN (Word 296) the new name—LUDACRIS!
Similarly, rap star Jay-Z’s name is also an AMALGAM. Shawn Carter grew up in Brooklyn near
where the J-Z subway line has a stop on Marcy Avenue. Carter’s friends nicknamed him “Jazzy.”
Carter later combined the name of the subway line with his nickname to COIN the new name Jay-Z!
87 |
VIABLE, FEASIBLE
Capable of being accomplished; possible
Soaring oil costs and worries about global warming have prompted a search for VIABLE
alternatives to fossil fuels. Some of the most FEASIBLE alternative energy sources include solar
power, wind power, and biofuels. However, currently only around eight percent of energy in the
United States comes from renewable sources, meaning that much research is still needed in order to
find VIABLE alternative energy sources. Companies like BP and GE have invested billions of
dollars in research on the most FEASIBLE sources of energy.
88 |
ANGUISH
Agonizing physical or mental pain; torment
Ancient Greek tragedies are filled with the unhappiness, pain, failure, and loss associated with the
human condition. In Sophocles’s Antigone King Creon of Thebes has refused to give his nephew a
proper burial after he was killed in a battle against his own brother. Creon’s niece Antigone,
ANGUISHED at this BREACH (break) of protocol, tries to carry out the funeral rites and is
IMMURED (walled up) in a cave as punishment. Creon remains OBDURATE (Word 15) until he
hears of the suicides of his wife and his son (Antigone’s fiancé) after Antigone hangs herself. Too late
REMORSEFUL (Word 432), Creon is left to deal with his ANGUISH totally alone.
When Bruce Wayne saved Gotham from the Joker in The Dark Knight, he sustained multiple injuries,
allowed his Batman alter ego to be declared a criminal, and lost the love of his life, Rachel Dawes.
Set eight years later, The Dark Knight Rises finds Bruce frail, RECLUSIVE (Word 113), and filled
with ANGUISH over Rachel’s death. However, Bruce dons the Batman st ttttttt D uit again when a
MALEVOLENT (Word 218) and strong terrorist named Bane threatens Gotham. The brutal Bane
proves to be a BANE (Word 16) for Batman, who has met his match in the powerful masked villain.
Wayne finds himself in physical ANGUISH after a devastating encounter with Bane.
89 |
INTEMPERATE
Lacking restraint; excessive
TEMPERATE
Exercising moderation and restraint
INTEMPERATE habits such as smoking, drinking, and overeating are INIMICAL (harmful) to good
health. In contrast, a TEMPERATE person leads a lifestyle characterized by moderation and selfrestraint. Bluto (Animal House), Frank “The Tank” (Old School), and Ben Stone (Knocked Up) were
all fun-loving, INTEMPERATE party animals. Compare their lifestyles to Andy Stitzer’s (The 40Year-Old Virgin) far more TEMPERATE approach to life.
The 18th century British author Samuel Johnson is famed for saying, “ABSTINENCE (refraining
from use) is as easy to me as TEMPERANCE would be difficult.”
90 |
SUPERFICIAL
Shallow; lacking in depth; concerned with surface appearances
What do Cher (Clueless) and Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby) have in common? Both are
SUPERFICIAL. In Clueless, Josh calls Cher “a SUPERFICIAL space cadet” because she lacks
direction. Daisy proves to be a SUPERFICIAL person who prizes material possessions. For
example, she bursts into tears when Gatsby shows her his collection of English dress shirts because
she realizes that he has now become seriously wealthy. Tragically, Gatsby discovers that beneath
Daisy’s SUPERFICIAL surface there is only more surface.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN PREFIX:
SUPER, SUPRA | over, above, greater in quality
SUPERCILIOUS overbearing, proud, haughty
on the surface, shallow
SUPERFICIAL
SUPERLATIVE the best, in the highest degree
SUPERNATURAL above and beyond all nature
to take the place of, to SUPPLANT
SUPERSEDE
91 |
LAUD, EXTOL, TOUT, ACCLAIM
To praise; applaud
What do the Beach Boys’ classic song “California Girls” and Katy Perry’s hit “California Gurls”
have in common? Both songs EXTOL the beauty of California girls. The Beach Boys acknowledge
that they are BEGUILED (enticed, captivated) by the way southern girls talk. They LAUD east coast
girls for being hip. However, this doesn’t shake their CONVICTION (firm belief) that California
girls are “the cutest girls in the world.”
Needless to say, Katy Perry CONCURS (agrees) with the Beach Boys. She proudly TOUTS the
beauty of California’s ACCLAIMED golden coast. But that is not all. The California boys “break
their necks” trying to sneak a peek at the VOLUPTUOUS (very sensual) “California gurls.” And
who can blame them? According to Katy, “California gurls” are “unforgettable Daisy Dukes, bikinis
on top.”
Tip for a Direct Hit
LAUDS is the morning church service in which psalms of praise to God are sung. Note that
the word appLAUD contains the root word LAUD. LAUD and its synonyms EXTOL, TOUT,
and ACCLAIM all mean to praise.
92 |
DISMISSIVE
Showing INDIFFERENCE (Word 10) or disregard; rejecting
What do the artist Jackson Pollock, the author J.K. Rowling, and the reggae singer and rapper Sean
Kingston have in common? All three had to overcome DISMISSIVE critics. Bewildered critics
ridiculed Pollock, calling him “Jack the Dripper.” INDIFFERENT (Word 10) editors at numerous
publishing houses rejected J.K. Rowling’s story about a boy wizard named Harry Potter. And Sean
Kingston almost quit the music industry after his idols Timbaland and Pharrell DISMISSED his early
recordings.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN PREFIX:
MITT/MISS | to send
ignnnnnnnn And " al
to send out
EMIT
to send under, yield, resign, surrender
SUBMIT
to send across, communicate, convey
TRANSMIT
to send back, pay money, diminish in intensity
REMIT
to send by, pass by, neglect, leave out
OMIT
to send to, let in, confess, concede
ADMIT
to send together, entrust, pledge, memorize
COMMIT
to send through, allow
PERMIT
to send away, discharge, put out of mind
DISMISS
(adj.) negligent, lax, careless
REMISS
REMITTANCE a payment sent to pay a bill
a duty one is sent to perform
MISSION
something sent through the air
MISSILE
a note sent by messenger
MISSIVE
a messenger sent on a mission
EMISSARY
93 |
DISPARAGE
To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way; belittle
Did you see the movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? What was your opinion? Does it
deserve to be LAUDED (Word 91) or DISPARAGED? You might be surprised to learn that Megan
Fox, the actress who played Mikaela Banes, DISPARAGED Transformers director Michael Bay for
focusing more on special effects than on acting. Fox also blasted Bay, calling him a dictator “who
wants to be like Hitler on his sets.” GALLED (irked) by Fox’s DISPARAGING remarks, Bay shot
back that Fox is young “and has a lot of growing to do.” Bay finally ended the war of words when he
cut Fox from Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, saying her role was not INTEGRAL (essential) to
the story.
94 |
POMPOUS
Filled with excessive self-importance; PRETENTIOUS;
OSTENTATIOUS (Word 413); boastful
In the Harry Potter SAGA (Word 236), Draco Malfoy is a bully who arrogantly proclaims that pureblood wizards are far superior to Muggles (non-wizards) and Mudbloods (Muggle-born witches and
wizards). The POMPOUS Malfoy loves to use verbal taunts to DENIGRATE (malign) Harry, Ron,
and Hermione. Draco is a literary FOIL (contrast) to the modest hero, Harry Potter.
95 |
CRYPTIC
Having a hidden or AMBIGUOUS (Word 21) meaning; mysterious
A s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets opens, Dobby delivers this CRYPTIC message to
Harry: “Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts.” But why must Harry stay away from Hogwarts?
Since the message is so CRYPTIC, we don’t know. Later in the same book, a CRYPTIC message
appears on one of the walls at Hogwarts: “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the
Heir, Beware.” Once again, since the message is CRYPTIC955555555ce; C/span>, we are not
sure what it means.
96 |
SUBTLE
Difficult to detect; faint; mysterious; likely to elude perception
Iago, the ultimate villain of English literature, is brilliantly SUBTLE in the way he manipulates
Othello into believing that his wife, Desdemona, has been unfaithful. Iago SUBTLY plants suspicion
with diversions, suggestions, and INNUENDOES (Word 66). This SUBTLETY makes Othello more
deeply APPREHENSIVE (wary), and so Iago’s NEFARIOUS (Word 139) plan succeeds in
destroying both Othello and Desdemona.
97 |
DISPARITY
An inequality; a gap; an imbalance
The Hunger Games takes place in the nation of Panem, which contains 12 districts controlled by the
DESPOTIC (Word 270) President Snow, who rules the country from the Capitol. There is great
DISPARITY in Panem between the AFFLUENT (having a great deal of money, wealthy) and spoiled
citizens of the Capitol and the IMPECUNIOUS (Word 138) residents of the districts, who live in
DEPLORABLE (very bad) conditions and suffer from starvation. The DISPARITY is especially
evident during the annual Hunger Games, in which the districts are forced to send teenagers to
compete in a MORTAL (deadly) battle for the Capitol’s entertainment.
Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is India’s financial capital and largest city. The movie Slumdog
Millionaire features vivid images of the DISPARITY between the AFFLUENT (Word 257) few
who live in the city’s luxury condominiums and the poverty-stricken masses who live in tiny shacks in
the densely-crowded Dharavi slum.
Tip for a Direct Hit
DISPARITY contains the Latin root PAR meaning “that which is equal.” The root still lives
in the golfing term PAR, which means to be equal to the course. It can also be seen in the
SAT word PARITY, which means equality in status or value.
98 |
CURTAIL
To cut short or reduce
The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill created an UNPRECEDENTED (Word 285) environmental and economic
disaster. As a toxic oil slick spread across the Gulf’s once PRISTINE (Word 417) beaches and
wetlands, IRATE (angry, incensed) workers lost jobs while worried tourists CURTAILED and eh
mmmmmmmm dven canceled vacation trips to the region. The spill UNDERSCORED (emphasized)
America’s dependence upon gasoline. On average, Americans consume about 386 million gallons of
gasoline each day. This PRODIGIOUS (huge) rate of consumption cannot go on forever. Many
PUNDITS (Word 117) argue that Americans must CURTAIL their fuel consumption by developing
renewable sources of energy.
99 |
INNOCUOUS
Harmless; unlikely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility; not
INIMICAL
Many mushrooms are INNOCUOUS, but there are some, like the Amanita or Death Cap mushroom,
that are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Sometimes a person will say something unkind and then claim that the intent was INNOCUOUS,
saying, “Oh, they know I’m kidding.” Such an assertion may very well be DISINGENUOUS (Word
428), for the speaker is probably quite aware of the toxic effect of the not-so-INNOCUOUS words.
100 |
DIATRIBE, TIRADE, HARANGUE
A bitter abusive denunciation; a thunderous verbal attack; a RANT
What do Coach Carter (Coach Carter), Coach Gaines (Friday Night Lights), and Coach Boone
(Remember the Titans) all have in common? All three coaches are passionate about building
character and team-work. And, if necessary, all three don’t hesitate to deliver a TIRADE when a
player fails to follow team rules or perform to the best of his ability. For example, Coach Boone
demands perfection. In one memorable DIATRIBE he insists, “We will be perfect in every aspect of
the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You
fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts and then you will run
a mile. Perfection. Let’s go to work!”
It is debatable as to whether HARANGUING others in order to inspire them to different behaviours
is an effective strategy. Former Indianapolis Colts’ coach, Tony Dungy, refused to RANT at his
players and achieved great success including winning the Superbowl.
History is filled with a fascinating array of men and women who have made enduring
contributions or caused great tragedies. This chapter will introduce you to 30 SAT words that
describe an astonishing variety of people. You will meet Pharaoh Akhenaton, the ancient world’s
most famous ICONOCLAST (Word 107), and William Lloyd Garrison, the ZEALOT (Word 118),
who championed the cause of the unconditional and immediate abolition of slavery. As you study
this chaptdivndex="inder, you will learn words that will help you describe great orators,
notorious traitors, and astute political commentators. We are convinced that you meet the most
interesting people on the SAT!
101 |
CHARLATAN
A fake; fraud; imposter; cheat
Would you trust the Wizard of Oz, Gilderoy Lockhart ( Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), or
Chaucer’s Friar (The Canterbury Tales )? I hope not. All three of these men were CHARLATANS,
imposters who could not be trusted. The Wizard of Oz was a CHARLATAN who tried to trick
Dorothy and her friends. Gilderoy Lockhart was a CHARLATAN who interviewed famous wizards
and witches and then took credit for their heroic deeds. The Friar, a member of a medieval
MENDICANT (begging) order, was supposed to beg from the rich and give to the poor. Instead, he
spent his time with well-off people, knew all the taverns, and dispensed pardons based solely on the
amount of money he was given. It is even suggested that he had an active love life that required him to
find husbands for the young women he had made pregnant.
Tip for a Direct Hit
The word CHARLATAN often appears in sentence completion questions. A CHARLATAN is
associated with negative traits. A CHARLATAN will try to DUPE (mislead) UNWARY
(incautious) victims with SPURIOUS (false) information.
102 |
SKEPTIC
A person who doubts, asks questions and lacks faith
In the movie Men in Black, Edwards was originally a SKEPTIC who did not believe that aliens
were actually living in New York City. In Bruce Almighty, Bruce was originally a SKEPTIC who
did not believe that the man he met was really God. And in the movie Superbad, Seth was originally
a SKEPTIC who did not believe that Fogell’s fake Hawaiian ID, with the name “McLovin”, would
work.
103 |
RHETORICIAN
An eloquent writer or speaker; a master of RHETORIC (the art of speaking and writing)
Frederick Douglass, Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Ronald
Reagan were all CHARISMATIC (magnetic and inspiring) leaders and superb RHETORICIANS,
whose eloquent speeches inspired millions of people. For example, in his inaugural address,
President Kennedy challenged Americans by proclaiming, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not
what your country can do for you—ask what you/spppppppppn="lefire can do for your country.”
104 |
HEDONIST
A person who believes that pleasure is the chief goal of life
In Ancient Greece, the HEDONISTS urged their followers to “eat, drink, and be merry, for
tomorrow we die.” Although it is a long way from Ancient Greece to the home of rapper Ricky Ross
in Miami, the HEDONISTIC principle of pursuing pleasure remains the same. During the tour of his
“crib,” Ross proudly displays the interior of his Escalade Maybach, a Cadillac Escalade with the
interior of a Maybach. Hooked up with leather seats, plasmas, and satellites, the interior provides
everything a HEDONIST could possibly ask for.
105 |
ASCETIC
A person who gives up material comforts and leads a life of self-denial, especially as
an act of religious devotion
At the age of 29, Prince Siddhartha Gautama left the luxuries of his father’s palace and for the next six
years adopted an extreme ASCETIC life. For days at a time, he ate only a single grain of rice. His
stomach became so empty that, by poking a finger into it, he could touch his backbone. Yet, Gautama
found only pain, not wisdom. He decided to give up extreme ASCETICISM and seek wisdom in
other ways. Gautama was successful and soon became known as Buddha, a title meaning “the
Enlightened One.”
106 |
RACONTEUR
A person who excels in telling ANECDOTES
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was a renowned RACONTEUR. Many of the
ANECDOTES (Word 238) in the movie 300 are taken from his famous history of the Persian Wars.
For example, Herodotus recounts how a Persian officer tried to intimidate the Spartans by declaring,
“A thousand nations of the Persian Empire descend upon you. Our arrows will blot out the sun.”
UNDAUNTED (Word 73), the Spartan warrior Stelios retorted, “Then we will fight in the shade.”
107 |
ICONOCLAST
A person who attacks and ridicules cherished figures, ideas, and institutions
What do the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaton and the modern filmmaker Michael Moore have in
common? Both are ICONOCLASTS. Akhenaton challenged ancient Egypt’s longstanding belief in a
large number of gods by rejecting polytheism and insisting that Aton was the universal or only god.
Michael Moore is a modern ICONOCLAST whose documentary films have attacked the Ie
SSSSSSSSS T?bfraq War, the American health care system, Wall Street bankers, and Washington
politicians. Like a true ICONOCLAST, Moore ridiculed Congress, saying that most of its members
are scoundrels who deserve to be “removed and replaced.”
108 |
PARTISAN
A supporter of a person, party, or cause; a person with strong and perhaps biased
beliefs
Are you pro-life or pro-choice? Do you support health care reform legislation? How do you feel
about illegal immigration? If you have a strong view on these issues, you are a PARTISAN. In
contrast, NONPARTISAN issues enjoy widespread public support. For example, during the Cold
War, most Americans supported the policy of containing Soviet expansion.
109 |
POLYMATH
A person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas
DILETTANTE
An amateur or dabbler; a person with a SUPERFICIAL (Word 90) interest in an art
or a branch of knowledge; a trifler
POLYMATH Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), noted author, printer, inventor, scientist, political
theorist, musician, satirist, diplomat, and statesman, had a MYRIAD (Word 352) of interests, all of
which he developed to a remarkable degree. His diligence, intelligence, common sense, strength of
character, and TENACITY (Word 56) helped him to become one of the most influential of the
Founding Fathers.
In contrast, Max Fischer, a high school sophomore in Wes Anderson’s movie Rushmore, is flunking
every subject, but he is involved in virtually every extra-curricular activity offered at his school. The
BIZARRE (conspicuously unusual) list of activities—from Beekeeping to Debate to JV Decathlon to
Second Chorale Director—SATIRIZES (Word 233) the culture of the DILETTANTE, a “Jack of all
trades, but master of none.”
In recent years colleges have been sending the message that they would prefer candidates who
DELVE (dig) deeply into one or several areas of interest instead of those who pad their resumés
with long lists of activities that could only have commanded DILETTANTISH attention.
Tip for a Direct Hit
DILETTANTE comes from the Italian, meaning a “lover of the arts” and goes back to the
Latin dilettare, to delight.
Originally it did not carry the PEJORATIVE (negative) connotations that it holds today. In
the 17th and 18th centuries, people were more inclined to celebrate the “well-rounded
Renaissance man.” Perhaps it Jaccccccccccidth=" thewas easier to master a number of
fields when there was less to be known.
110 |
MENTOR
An advisor; a teacher; a guide
ACOLYTE
A devoted follower
In the Star Wars SAGA (Word 236), Obi-Wan Kenobi is a Jedi Knight who serves as Luke
Skywalker’s MENTOR. As an eager young ACOLYTE of the SAGE (profoundly wise) Kenobi,
Skywalker learns the ways of the Force, a natural power harnessed by the Jedi in their struggle
against the VILLAINOUS (vile, DEPRAVED, wicked) Darth Vader and the evil Galactic Empire.
111 |
DEMAGOGUE
A leader who appeals to the fears, emotions, and prejudices of the populace
Adolf Hitler is often cited as the EPITOME (perfect example) of a DEMAGOGUE. Hitler rose to
power by using impassioned speeches that appealed to the ethnic and nationalistic prejudices of the
German people. Hitler exploited, embittered, and misled WWI veterans by blaming their plight on
minorities and other convenient scapegoats.
Unfortunately, Americans have not been immune to the impassioned pleas of DEMAGOGUES.
During the 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy falsely alleged that Communist sympathizers had
infiltrated the State Department. As McCarthy’s DEMAGOGIC rhetoric grew bolder, he
DENOUNCED (Word 177) General George Marshall, former Army Chief of Staff and ex-Secretary
of State, calling him “part of a conspiracy so immense and an infamy so black as to dwarf any
previous venture in the history of man.”
112 |
AUTOMATON
A self-operating machine; a mindless follower; a person who acts in a mechanical
fashion
In the Harry Potter series, the Imperius Curse was a spell that caused its victim to fall under the
command of the caster. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Death Eater Yaxley placed an
Imperius Curse on Pius Thickness. When Thickness became Minister of Magic, he behaved like an
AUTOMATON or mindless follower of Lord Voldemort.
113 |
RECLUSE
A person who leads a secluded or solitary life
In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Andy Stitzer was a complete RECLUSE until he started hanging out with
his coworkers from SmartTech. Andy’s only hobbies were collecting action figures, playing video
games, and watching Survivor. In fact, Andy was so RECLUSIVE that when a coworker asked him
what the highlight of his weekend was, Andy recounted the adventures of making an egg salad
sandwich!
Another example of a RECLUSE is Harper Lee. Although she is the world-famous Pulitzer Prizewinning author of To Kill A Mockingbird, she rarely ever appears in public.
114 |
BUNGLER
Someone who is clumsy or INEPT; a person who makes mistakes because of incompetence
BUNGLERS have been featured in a number of movies. For example, in the movie 21 Jump Street,
officers Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko are BUNGLERS who botch their investigations and police
work. They forget to read the Miranda rights to a criminal during an arrest, confuse their undercover
identities, and even get fired from the Jump Street division for their INEPT work.
In the movie The Princess Diaries, Mia Thermopolis is a BUNGLER who is INEPT in social
situations, awkward and clumsy. However, she discovers that she’s the princess of Genovia, a small
European country. After taking many “Princess Lessons,” she emerges as a confident princess, fit to
rule her country.
115 |
CLAIRVOYANT
Having the supposed power to see objects and events that cannot be perceived with
the five traditional senses; a SEER
Sybill Trelawney was the Divination professor at Hogwarts who claimed to be a CLAIRVOYANT.
She used tea leaves and crystal balls to see the future. Both Harry and Professor Dumbledore were
SKEPTICAL (Word 102) about her claim to be a CLAIRVOYANT. In Harry Potter and the Order
of the Phoenix, Dolores Umbridge fired Sybill for being a CHARLATAN (Word 101). Nonetheless,
readers of the Harry Potter series know that Trelawney did make two extremely important and very
accurate prophecies.
In the show Psych, Shawn Spencer convinces the police department that he is CLAIRVOYANT, and
they hire him as a psychic consultant. However, he is a CHARLATAN (Word 101), for he is not
actually CLAIRVOYANT. Instead, he is extremely observant and has a keen memory. His
exceptional observational and DEDUCTIVE (drawing conclusions based on reasoning from the
general to the particular) skills allow him to maintain his charade as a psychic since they help him
solve complex cases.
>>>>>>>>> tigg2" face="Myriad Pro Cond">116 |
PROGNOSTICATOR
A person who makes predictions based upon current information and data
Weather forecasters, sports announcers, and financial analysts are all PROGNOSTICATORS who
use information and data to make predictions and forecasts. It is important to understand the
difference between a PROGNOSTICATOR and a CLAIRVOYANT (Word 115). Although both
make predictions, a PROGNOSTICATOR uses empirical data that can be collected, seen, and
studied. In contrast, a CLAIRVOYANT claims to see the future through means beyond the five
senses.
In medicine, a doctor will often give a patient his PROGNOSIS (a forecast concerning the causes of
his disease and outlining the chances of recovery).
117 |
PUNDIT
An expert commentator; an authority who expresses his or her opinion, usually on
political issues
From CNN’s News Center to ESPN’s Sports Center, television programs are filled with PUNDITS
who offer their “expert” commentary on issues ranging from political campaigns to March Madness
brackets. The PUNDITS almost always sound authoritative and convincing. But it is wise to maintain
a healthy SKEPTICISM (Word 102). Here are expert opinions from famous pundits who turned out
to be wrong:
“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
Pierre Packet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1895
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, President, Chairman, and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
118 |
ZEALOT
A very enthusiastic person; a champion; a true believer, perhaps to an excessive
degree; a fanatic
William Lloyd Garrison was a ZEALOT who championed the cause of unconditional and immediate
abolition of slavery. In the first issue of The Liberator, Garrison left no doubt as to his intentions
when he wrote: “I am in earnest—I will not EQUIVOCATE (Word 215)—I will not excuse—I will
not retreat a single inch—AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
119 |
NEOPHYTE, NOVICE, GREENHORN
A beginner; someone new to a field or activity
In October 2008 Justin Bieber was an unknown NEOPHYTE who had never professionally recorded
a song. However, Usher recognized that although Bieber was a NOVICE, he was a musical
PRODIGY (Word 123) with the potential to become a superstar. With Usher as his MENTOR
(Word 110), Bieber quickly MORPHED (transformed) from a GREENHORN into a global
sensation. No longer a NOVICE, Bieber has begun MENTORING and promoting other musical
GREENHORNS. After hearing Carly Rae Jepsen’s song “Call Me Maybe,” he tweeted about the
song and convinced his manager to sign the Canadian singer. “Call Me Maybe” became the source of
numerous PARODIES (Word 233) that were very popular and became a major hit.
120 |
BENEFACTOR, PATRON
A person who makes a gift or bequest
BENEFICIARY
The recipient of funds, titles, property, and other benefits
Nicholas Sparks has achieved international fame by writing romance novels such as The Notebook
and A Walk to Remember that are often set in New Bern, North Carolina. Residents of New Bern also
know Sparks as a generous BENEFACTOR and PATRON who has donated nearly $1 million to
build a state-of-the-art track and field facility for New Bern High School. As the BENEFICIARIES
of this MUNIFICENCE (Word 258), the New Bern Bears have become one of North Carolina’s top
track and field teams. Note that both BENEFACTOR and BENEFICIARY begin with the Latin root
bene, which means “good.” So a BENEFACTOR, like Nicholas Sparks, gives good gifts, and a
BENEFICIARY, like New Bern High School, receives good gifts.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN ROOT:
BENE | good, well
to do good, (noun) a good thing
BENEFIT
good, wholesome
BENEFICIAL
BENEFICENT doing good
BENEFACTOR one who helps another
BENEVOLENCE good will towards others
BENEDICTION the act of blessing
BBBBBBBBBBB TSSEMBLER, PREVARICATOR">
121 |
DISSEMBLER, PREVARICATOR
A liar and deceiver
In Mean Girls, Regina George is a cunning DISSEMBLER who deliberately lies to her friends and
to her enemies. In the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Barbossa
is a PREVARICATOR who repeatedly lies to Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann, and Will Turner.
122 |
PROPONENT
One who argues in support of something; an ADVOCATE; a champion of a cause
Although America has faced a number of challenging social problems, our nation has always
produced leaders who were strong PROPONENTS of reform. For example, during the 19th century,
Jane Addams was an outspoken PROPONENT of urban settlement houses. Today, former VicePresident Al Gore is a vigorous ADVOCATE of implementing measures that will reduce global
warming. One way to remember PROPONENT is to note that the prefix pro means to be for
something.
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN PREFIX:
PONE, POSE | to place, set, put
to set forth, show for all to see
EXPOSE
to remove from office
DEPOSE
to rest
REPOSE
to place on, as a penalty
IMPOSE
SUPPOSE to assume to be true
PROPOSE to offer, to put forward
EXPONENT a person who sets forth or interprets
POSTPONE to place later, to delay
to assert, to declare
POSIT
POSTURE (vb) to pose, assume a fake position (n.) placement of the limbs, carriage
123 |
PRODIGY
A person with great talent; a young genius
What do Wolfgang Mozart and Pablo Picasso have in common? They were PRODIGIES who
demonstrated uncanny artistic talent at a young age. Mozart was a child PRODIGY who wrote his
first symphony at the age of eight and grew into a PROLIFIC (Word 381) adult who wrote over 600
pieces of music before his death at the age of 35. Like Mozart, Picasso also demonstrated
PRECOCIOUS (very/tddddddddddd t advanced) talent, drawing pictures before he could talk.
Picasso mastered many styles but is best known as the PROGENITOR (originator) of Cubism.
124 |
ORACLE
A person considered to be ORACULAR, that is a source of wise counsel or prophetic opinions
Would you like to know what is going to happen in the future? All you have to do is ask an
ORACLE. Just as the ancient Greeks asked the Delphic Oracle to predict the future, 2010 World Cup
soccer fans watched televised reports featuring the predictions of an octopus named Paul. The eightlegged ORACLE became a global sensation when he correctly predicted the winner of eight straight
matches. Paul’s PROGNOSTICATIONS (Word 116) attracted LUCRATIVE (Word 253) offers
from people who wanted to know the outcome of elections and the gender of future children.
125 |
MISANTHROPE
A person who hates or distrusts humankind
Ebenezer Scrooge and Alceste are two of the best-known MISANTHROPES in literature. Scrooge
is the main character in Charles Dickens’s 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol. He is a cold-hearted,
MISERLY (very stingy) MISANTHROPE who despises poor people and Christmas.
Alceste is the main character in Molière’s 1666 play, The Misanthrope. He is a judgmental
MISANTHROPE, quick to criticize the flaws in people.
Tip for a Direct Hit
MISANTHROPE combines the Greek prefix MISO meaning “hate” with the Greek root
ANTHROPOS meaning “humankind.” Prefixes make a difference in the meaning of words.
If we place the Greek prefix PHILO, meaning “love,” in front of ANTHROPOS, we form the
word PHILANTHROPY, meaning love of humankind. A PHILANTHROPIST loves humanity
so much that he or she donates time and money to charity.
126 |
INNOVATOR
A person who introduces something new
Google has now become a verb, synonymous with “to search.” But Google was not the first to invent
the search engine; others ANTEDATED (preceded in time) Google. However, what made Google
INNOVATIVE was the PageRank algorithm, which ranks websites on their relevance to a search in
order to provide the most useful results. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the INNOVATORS behind
Google and PageRank, implemented this algoriththehehlign="ler">
Innovate incorporates the Latin root NOV, meaning “new.” For another use of NOV, see Word 170.
127 |
SYCOPHANT
A person who seeks favor by flattering people of influence; a TOADY; someone who
behaves in an OBSEQUIOUS (Word 371) or SERVILE manner
Louis XIV compelled France’s great nobles to live at the Versailles Palace. Life at the royal palace
transformed HAUGHTY (arrogant) aristocrats into favor-seeking SYCOPHANTS. Instead of
competing for political power, nobles SQUANDERED (wasted) their fortunes jockeying for social
prestige. For example, nobles vied for the COVETED (Word 32) honor of holding Louis XIV’s shirt
as he prepared to get dressed.
128 |
STOIC, STOLID
Seemingly INDIFFERENT (Word 10) to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain; impassive
and emotionless
What would you do if you scored the winning goal in a championship soccer game? What would you
do if your error caused your team to lose a championship baseball game? Most people would be
elated to win and dejected to lose. However, a STOIC would remain impassive, showing no emotion
in victory or defeat.
Being STOLID is not easy. It requires great discipline and self-control. For example, tourists to
London are familiar with the distinctive bearskin helmets and scarlet uniforms worn by the guards at
Buckingham Palace. The guards are famous for their ability to endure hot summer weather while
STOLIDLY standing in the same position for hours.
129 |
REPROBATE
A morally unprincipled person
Who is the most despised REPROBATE living in America today? For thousands of betrayed
investors there is only one answer—Bernard Madoff. On June 29, 2009, Judge Denny Chin sentenced
Madoff to 150 years in prison for running a giant Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of almost
$65 billion. Madoff’s victims included pension funds, charitable institutions, and elderly retirees.
Although Madoff was a CHARLATAN (Word 101), he is best described as a REPROBATE
because of the ENORMITY (outrageousness) of a fraud that Judge Chin called “extraordinarily
evil.”
130 |
RENEGADE
spsps Dra ><font size="+1"><i>A disloyal person who betrays his or her cause; a traitor; a
deserter<i>
In 1777 Benedict Arnold was one of America’s most admired Revolutionary War generals. Yet, just
three years later, Arnold was VILIFIED (slandered, defamed) as a RENEGADE whose name
became synonymous with traitor. What happened to cause this amazing change in Arnold’s
reputation? Despite his bravery at the pivotal battle of Saratoga, Arnold was passed over for
promotion while other officers took credit for his accomplishments. Frustrated and bitter, Arnold
secretly became a British agent. In 1780, he obtained command of West Point, with plans to surrender
it to the British. American forces discovered Arnold’s treacherous scheme, and he was forced to flee
to London to avoid capture. Today, Arnold’s contributions to the colonial cause are forgotten, and he
is remembered as our nation’s first and foremost RENEGADE.
Tip for a Direct Hit
The words REPROBATE (Word 129) and RENEGADE (Word 130) are easy to confuse. They
sound similar, and both are negative words that describe despicable people. A
REPROBATE is best remembered as a morally unprincipled and evil person. A RENEGADE
is best remembered as a traitor and deserter.
In 1922 British archaeologist Howard Carter amazed the world by discovering Pharaoh
Tutankhamen’s tomb. Each of the dazzling artifacts that he unearthed yielded new insights into
Egyptian history.
Although we usually don’t think of them in this way, words are like historic artifacts. Like the
precious jewels Carter found, words also have fascinating histories. ETYMOLOGY is a branch of
linguistics that specializes in digging up the origins of words.
Each word in our language has a unique history. The English language contains an especially rich
collection of words derived from legends, places, customs, and names. These “history-based”
words are frequently tested on the SAT.
131 |
DRACONIAN
Characterized by very strict laws, rules, and punishments
Draco was an ancient Athenian ruler who believed that the city-state’s haphazard judicial system
needed to be reformed. In 621 B.C.E., he issued a comprehensive but very severe new code of laws.
Whether trivial or serious, most criminal offenses called for the death penalty. Draco’s laws were so
severe that they were said to be written not in ink but in blood.
Today, the word DRACONIAN refers to very strict laws, rules, and punishments. For example, in
Iran both men and women can be stoned to death as punishment for being convicted of adultery.
132 |
LACONIC
Very brief; concise; SUCCINCT; TERSE
The ancient city-state of Sparta was located in a region of Greece called Laconia. The Spartans were
fearless warriors who had little time for long speeches. As a result, they were renowned for being
LACONIC or very concise. For example, Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, sent the
Spartans a long list of demands. The LACONIC Spartans sent it back with a one-word answer:
“No!”
Today, the word LACONIC still means very brief and TERSE.
New Englanders are often described as LACONIC. For instance, Robert Frost, the poet who spent
most of his life in Vermont and New Hampshire, is considered the QUINTESSENTIAL (the most
perfect embodiment) LACONIC writer, one who expressed much in few words.
133 |
SPARTAN
Plain; simple; AUSTERE (Word 19)
The Spartans were more than just LACONIC. They also prided themselves on being tough warriors
who avoided luxuries and led hardy lives. For example, Spartan soldiers lived in army barracks and
ate meager servings of a coarse black porridge.
Today, the word SPARTAN still describes a plain life without luxuries. Like the ancient Spartans,
American soldiers undergo a rigorous period of training. For example, recruits at the Marine training
center at Parris Island must live in SPARTAN barracks and endure an ARDUOUS (demanding) 12week training schedule before they can be called United States Marines.
134 |
HALCYON
Idyllically calm and peaceful; an untroubled golden time of satisfaction, happiness,
and tranquility
In Greek mythology, Alcyone was the daughter of Aeolus, god of the winds, and the devoted wife of
Ceyx. When Ceyx tragically drowned in a shipwreck, the distraught Alcyone threw herself into the
sea. Out of compassion, the gods transformed Alcyone and Ceyx into a pair of kingfishers. The
ancient Greeks named this distinctive bird halkyon after Alcyone. According to legend, kingfishers
built a floating nest on the sea at about the time of the winter solstice in December. To protect their
nest, the gods ordered the winds to remain calm for a week before and after the winter solstice. The
expression “halcyon days” refers to this period of untroubled peace and tranquility.
Today, HALCYON still refers to a golden time of untroubled happiness and tranquility. In the movie,
The Notebook, Allie and Noah are two carefree teenagers who meet at a local carnival on Seabrook
Island, South Carolina, and spend a |<|<|HALCYON days inspire their lifelong love for each other.
Companies can also enjoy HALCYON days with content employees, satisfied customers, and robust
profits.
135 |
SOPHISTRY
A plausible but deliberately misleading or FALLACIOUS argument designed to deceive
someone
The Sophists were originally a respected group of ancient Greek philosophers who specialized in
teaching rhetoric. However, over time they gained a reputation for their ability to persuade by using
clever and often tricky arguments. Today, SOPHISTRY is a negative word that refers to a
PLAUSIBLE (Word 38) but deliberately misleading argument.
In the movie Animal House, the Deltas are a notorious group of fun-loving misfits who gleefully
break campus rules. Outraged by their low grades and wild parties, Dean Wormer holds a hearing to
revoke the Deltas’ charter. UNDAUNTED (Word 73) by Dean Wormer’s accusations, Otter resorts
to SOPHISTRY in a clever but ultimately FUTILE (Word 46) attempt to save the Deltas:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a
few liberties with our female party guests—we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity
responsible for the behavior of few sick, twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we
blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an
indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you—isn’t this an indictment of
our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit
here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!”
Pleased with his SOPHISTRY, Otter then leads the defiant Deltas out of the chamber as all the
fraternity brothers hum the Star-Spangled Banner.
136 |
CHIMERICAL
Given to fantastic schemes; existing only in the imagination; impossible; vainly
conceived
The Chimera was one of the most fearsome monsters in Greek mythology. A fire-breathing female,
she had the head and body of a lion, a serpent’s tail, and a goat’s head protruding from her
midsection. This frightening combination was unusually fantastic even for the ancient Greeks.
Today, a CHIMERICAL scheme or claim is one that is a product of unrestrained fantasy. For
example, according to popular legend, Ponce de Leon discovered Florida while searching for the
fabled Fountain of Youth. While the Fountain of Youth proved to be fanciful, we have still not given
up our search for longevity. Fad diets, vitamin supplements, and exercise routines all offer claims that
have often proved to be Givenn>CHIMERICAL.
Tip for a Direct Hit
CHIMERICAL is a difficult word that often appears in challenging sentence completion
questions. Typically, test writers associate CHIMERICAL with once-promising medical
advances that were never fully realized and were thus CHIMERICAL.
137 |
OSTRACIZE
To deliberately exclude from a group; to BANISH
In ancient Athens, an ostrakon was a tile or shell. The Athenians used these shells as ballots in an
annual vote to decide who, if anyone, should be banished from their city. Each voter wrote a name on
his ostrakon. If at least 6,000 votes were cast and if a majority of them named one man, then that man
was banished or OSTRACIZED and had to leave Athens for 10 years because he was thought to be
dangerous by the state.
Today, the word OSTRACIZE still retains its original meaning of deliberately excluding someone
from a group. For example, following World War II, angry French citizens OSTRACIZED people
who had collaborated with the Nazis. In Chartres, vigilantes shaved the head of a young woman
whose baby was fathered by a German soldier. Crowds of jeering people taunted the OSTRACIZED
woman as she walked alone on the city streets.
138 |
IMPECUNIOUS
Poor; penniless; NOT AFFLUENT (Word 257)
When the Romans first settled the lands along the Tiber River, they lacked a metal currency.
Nonetheless, Roman farmers did have an ample supply of cattle. As a result, cattle were often used as
a measure of wealth. In Latin, pecus is the word for cattle. A Roman without a cow or pecus was thus
IMPECUNIOUS (IM is a prefix meaning NOT, see p. 96) or NOT WEALTHY.
Today, the word IMPECUNIOUS means lacking money and, thus, poor. The recent global financial
crisis is considered by many to be the worst since the Great Depression. The United States’ weak
economy has RENDERED (made) many citizens IMPECUNIOUS. The official unemployment rate
in the United States reached a staggering 9.1 percent, a figure that did not even include the
underemployed or those who had given up looking for work. Moreover, foreclosure rates were at an
all-time high, leaving many Americans in a PRECARIOUS (Word 205) state financially.
139 |
NEFARIOUS
Famous for being wicked; VILLAINdididid TgOUS; vile
In ancient Rome, the Latin word nefarius referred to a criminal. This unsavory connotation continued
over the centuries. Today, the word NEFARIOUS is used to describe someone who is extremely
wicked. Some of the most NEFARIOUS villains in film include Lord Voldemort ( Harry Potter), the
Joker (The Dark Knight), Darth Vader ( Star Wars ), and the Wicked Witch of the West ( The Wizard
of Oz).
140 |
JOVIAL
Good-humored; cheerful; JOCULAR
Jupiter was the chief deity of the Roman PANTHEON (all the gods of a particular mythology). The
Romans believed that each of their gods possessed particular attributes of character. As the most
powerful god, Jupiter was majestic and authoritative. However, he was also believed to be funloving and the source of joy and happiness. Since Jupiter was also known as Jove, the word JOVIAL
came to refer to people who have a cheerful, jolly temperament.
Today, JOVIAL still retains its meaning of good-humored, cheerful, and JOCULAR. While most
people do not associate JOVIAL with Jupiter, they do associate the word with Santa Claus. Often
referred to as “JOVIAL old St. Nicholas,” Santa Claus is usually presented as a jolly, good-humored
man who brings presents to well-behaved children.
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DIRGE
A funeral hymn; a slow, mournful, LUGUBRIOUS (Word 411) musical composition
When medieval Christians gathered to pay their final respects to the deceased, the Church ceremony
began with this solemn Latin phrase:
“Dirige, Domine, Deus meus, in conspectus tuo viam meam.”
(“Direct, O Lord my God, my way in thy sight.”)
Today, a DIRGE refers to a sad, mournful song or hymn of lament. For example, as the Titanic
slowly sank, its musicians supposedly played the DIRGE “Nearer, My God, To Thee” to comfort the
desperate souls still on the doomed ship. As POIGNANTLY (Word 77) depicted in the movie, the
band played the LUGUBRIOUS DIRGE until the very end. They then calmly went down with their
ship.
142 |
MAUDLIN
Tearful; excessively sentimental, but not MAWKISH
Mary Magdalene played an important and recurring role in the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life and
death. Accordie:<:<:<:ify">Maan>Mng to the Gospels, she stood at the foot of the cross, saw
Christ laid in the tomb, and was the first recorded witness of the Resurrection. During the 15th
century, artists frequently portrayed Mary Magdalene weeping as Christ was being taken down
from the Cross. The word MAUDLIN is an alteration of the name Magdalene. Today MAUDLIN
refers to excessively sentimental behavior.
Fans of the Harry Potter novels will recall that Moaning Myrtle lives up to her name by crying
INCESSANTLY (endlessly) and thus being MAUDLIN. Still, most would agree that she is a strong
character who stops short of becoming MAWKISH (nauseatingly sentimental in a sickly, dull,
INSIPID (Word 36) way), which is MAUDLIN carried to the extreme.
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QUIXOTIC
Foolishly impractical in the pursuit of ideals; impractical idealism
Miguel de Cervantes’ epic novel Don Quixote describes the chivalric adventures of the would-be
knight Don Quixote. Motivated by chivalric ideals, Don Quixote is determined to undo the wrongs of
the world. His fertile imagination turns lonely inns into castles and windmills into fearsome giants.
After a long series of misadventures, Don Quixote returns home a tired and disillusioned old man.
Derived from his name, the modern word QUIXOTIC refers to the foolish and impractical pursuit of
noble but unattainable ideals.
Every year, 10’s of thousands of wannabe singers audition to compete on American Idol. Many of the
auditionees have left their jobs, skipped important events, and traveled across the country just to
attend the auditions. All of the auditionees are convinced that they have the talent to be the next
American Idol. The majority of the singers are QUIXOTIC, for they give up their livelihoods in
order to pursue unrealistic dreams of fame and fortune. Since only a few Idol hopefuls make it to the
next round, most of the singers return home sadly, with no ticket to Hollywood.
144 |
PANDEMONIUM
A wild uproar; tumult
In Book I of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the fallen Satan commands his heralds to announce: “A solemn
Councel forthwith to be held/At Pandemonium, the high Capital/of Satan and his Peers.” Milton
COINED (Word 296) this name for the capital of Hell by combining the prefix PAN, meaning “all,”
with the Late Latin word daemonium, meaning “place of the evil spirits.” As Satan’s capital,
Pandemonium was characterized by a place of noise, confusion, and wild uproar.
Today, the word PANDEMONIUM refers to a wild uproar rather than a specific place. On
September 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon created states
of PANDEMONIUM in New York City and Washington, DC. Recent natural disasters have also
caused significant PANDEMONIUM. The devastaitltltlt livele World ting earthquake in Haiti in
January 2010 and the destructive tsunami in Japan in March 2011 caused massive uproar and panic in
those countries.
Tip for a Direct Hit
The prefix PAN is in a number of words that are ALL around you. For example, a
PANORAMIC view enables you to see in ALL directions. A PANACEA is a remedy that will
supposedly cure ALL diseases. A PANOPLY is a complete suit of armor and thus any
covering that has ALL the necessary array of materials.
145 |
MARTINET
A strict disciplinarian; a person who demands absolute adherence to forms and rules
The French king Louis XIV dreamed of winning glory by expanding France’s boundaries to the Rhine
River and the Alps. To achieve this goal, Louis and his war minister, the Marquis de Louvois,
created Europe’s first professional army. In order to be effective, the new army required strict
discipline. Louvois assigned this exacting task to Colonel Jean Martinet. A stern drillmaster, Ma rtinet
trained his troops to march in linear formations at exactly 80 paces a minute. The rigid control
imposed by Martinet helped transform NOVICE (Word 119) soldiers into highly-disciplined fighting
units.
Today, the word MARTINET still refers to a strict disciplinarian. The Marine Drill Sergeants at
Parris Island are renowned for being merciless MARTINETS. As readers of Harry Potter are well
aware, MARTINETS are not limited to the military. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,
Dolores Umbridge was a MARTINET who tried to impose rigid standards of discipline on the
students and faculty at Hogwarts.
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FIASCO
A complete failure; a DEBACLE
Venetian glassblowers were r enowned for their skill in making intricate glass vases and bowls.
Italian etymologists explain that when a master craftsman discovered a flaw in a piece he was
working on, he would turn it into an ordinary bottle to avoid wasting the glass. Since “far fiasco” is
an Italian phrase meaning “to make a bottle,” the bottle would represent a failure and thus a FIASCO.
Today, the word FIASCO still refers to a complete failure or DEBACLE. Most observers believe
that the government’s and BP’s BELATED (tardy, slow) response to the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill
transformed a disaster into a devastating human-made DEBACLE.
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BOWDLERIZE
To remove or delete parts of a book, song or other work that are considered
offensive; to EXPURGATE (Word 156)
Dr. Thomas Bowdler, an English physician, thought parents should read Shakespeare’s plays to their
children. Although Shakespeare may be an immortal bard, his plays do contain profanity and
suggestive scenes that may not be appropriate for family reading. So in 1818, Bowdler decided to
publish a family edition of Shakespeare. In his preface, Bowdler noted that he carefully edited “those
words and expressions which cannot, with propriety, be read aloud to a family.” Outraged critics
attacked Bowdler and COINED (Word 296) the new word BOWDLERIZE to describe the deletion
of parts of a book or play that are deemed offensive. Interestingly, the BOWDLERIZED edition of
Shakespeare proved to be a commercial success, thus, perhaps, vindicating Bowdler’s judgment.
The controversy over BOWDLERIZED books did not end with Thomas Bowdler. In her book The
Language Police, Diane Ravitch argues that American students are compelled to read bland texts that
have been BOWDLERIZED by publishers and textbook committees who cut or change controversial
material from books, even classics. For example, an anthology used in Tennessee schools changed
“By God!” to “By gum!”
148 |
GALVANIZE
To electrify; to stir into action as if with an electric shock
Luigi Galvani (1737–1790) was an Italian professor of physiology whose pioneering work stimulated
important research into the nature of electricity. Galvani’s name is still associated with an electrical
process that puts a zinc coating over iron or steel.
One of the first uses of the word in a FIGURATIVE (metaphorical) sense is in Charlotte Bronte’s
1853 novel Villette: “Her approach always GALVANIZED him to new and spasmodic life.” In
more recent times Rosa Parks’s simple but powerful act of protest GALVANIZED the people of
Montgomery, Alabama, to boycott the buses, thus giving additional IMPETUS (Word 78) to the Civil
Rights Movement.
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PICAYUNE
Small value or importance; petty; trifling
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has one of the best-known and oddest names of an American
newspaper. The word “picayune” originally referred to a small Spanish coin worth about six cents.
Back in 1837, the original proprietors of the then New Orleans Picayune gave their new paper that
name because a copy cost about six cents, or one picayune.
Today, the word PICAYUNE refers to something of small value and thus of little importance. After
Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans leaders angrily accused FEMA officials of ignoring urgent problems
while they focused on minor details that could best be described as PICAYUNE.
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GERRYMANDER
To divide a geographic area into voting districts so as to give unfair advantage to
one party in elections
If you think the word GERRYMANDER sounds like the name of a strange political beast, you are
right. The name was COINED (Word 296) by combining the word salamander, “a small lizard-like
amphibian,” with the last name of Elbridge Gerry, a former governor of Massachusetts. Gerry was
immortalized in this word because an election district created by members of his party in 1812
looked like a salamander. When the famous artist Gilbert Stuart noticed the oddly-shaped district on a
map in a newspaper editor’s office, he decorated the outline of the district with a head, wings, and
claws and then said to the editor, “That will do for a salamander!” “Gerrymander!” came the reply,
and a new SAT word was COINED (Word 296).
Today, the word GERRYMANDER still retains its meaning of an oddly-shaped district designed to
favor one party. For example, California has drawn district lines so that two pockets of Republican
strength in
Los Angeles separated by many miles were connected by a thin strip of coastline. In this way, most
Republican voters were assigned to one GERRYMANDERED district. District 23 is one of the
narrowest districts in the United States and is often referred to as “the district that disappears at high
tide.” IRONICALLY (Word 231), the seat has recently been held by a Democrat.
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MAVERICK
An independent individual who does not go along with a group or party; a
nonconformist
Samuel A. Maverick was one of the early leaders of Texas. He fought for Texas independence,
served as mayor of San Antonio, and eventually purchased a 385,000-acre ranch. While Maverick’s
achievements have been forgotten, his name is remembered because of his practice of refusing to
brand the cattle on his ranch. These unbranded cattle were soon called mavericks.
Today, the meaning of the word MAVERICK has been extended from cattle to people. A
MAVERICK is anyone who doesn’t follow the common herd, thus a nonconformist. In the movie Top
Gun, Lt. Peter Mitchell received the nickname “Mav” because he was a nonconformist who did not
always follow the rules.
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JUGGERNAUT
An irresistible force that crushes everything in its path
Jagannath (or “Lord of the World”) is an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. In the early 14th
century, a Franciscan missionary named Friar Odoric visited India. When he returned to Europe,
Odoric published a journal describing how Jagannath’s devoted followers placed the god’s image on
s s s s justifyarlan enormous carriage which they pulled through the streets. According to Odoric’s
inaccurate but sensational report, excited worshippers threw themselves under the carriage and were
crushed to death. As Odoric’s exaggerated story spread across Europe, Jagannath’s name was
transformed into the new word JUGGERNAUT.
Today, the word JUGGERNAUT refers to an irresistible force that crushes everything in its path.
The D-Day assault forces were a JUGGERNAUT that crushed the German defenses.
The Hunger Games’ JUGGERNAUT continued to gain momentum with the release of the first
movie in China and on home entertainment. Sales of the trilogy have become Amazon’s best-selling
series, ECLIPSING (Word 295) the Harry Potter series.
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SERENDIPITY
Discovery by fortunate accident
Sri Lanka is an island off the southeast coast of India. Known to Arab geographers as Serendip, the
exotic island was the setting of a fanciful Persian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip. The story
and its title inspired the English writer Horace Walpole (1717–1797) to COIN (Word 296) the word
SERENDIPITY. In a letter written in 1754, Walpole explained that SERENDIPITY refers to the
uncanny ability of the three princes to make chance discoveries.
Today, the word SERENDIPITY refers to an accidental but fortunate discovery. When Scottish
physician Alexander Fleming went on vacation in 1928, he left a dish smeared with Staphylococcus
bacteria on a bench in his laboratory. In his absence, a mold from another lab drifted onto the culture.
When Fleming returned, he noticed that the bacteria had not grown where the mold had fallen.
Fleming named the active ingredient in the mold penicillin. His SERENDIPITOUS discovery
proved to be a WATERSHED (Word 268) event in modern medicine. Penicillin is still one of the
most effective antibiotics used around the world.
154 |
ZENITH
The highest point; the peak; the APEX
Arab astronomers called the point of the celestial sphere directly above the observer the samt,
meaning “way of the head.” When Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula, many Arabic words
entered the Spanish language. Within a short time, the Arabic word samt became the Spanish word
zenit. Over time, zenit passed into English and became ZENITH.
Today, the word ZENITH refers to the highest point or peak. On June 12, 1987, President Ronald
Reagan spoke for the people of West Berlin and the entire Free World when he called upon Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Reagan’s dramatic speech marked the
ZENITH of his presidency and the beginning of the end of the Cold War.
155 |
NADIR
The lowest point; the bottom
Arab astronomers called the point of the celestial sphere directly under the observer the nazir, or
opposite. Thus, the phrase nazir assant meant “opposite of the zenith.” With a slight modification,
nazir entered the English language as NADIR.
Today the word NADIR is used to describe someone’s (or something’s) lowest point. In The Dark
Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne’s NADIR is when Bane physically cripples him and places him in The
Pit, an essentially inescapable foreign prison, so that he must helplessly watch the destruction of
Gotham on television. Defeated, filled with physical ANGUISH (Word 88), and forced to watch the
annihilation of his beloved Gotham, Wayne is at his NADIR in The Pit. However, over several
months, he slowly recovers from his injuries, regains his strength, escapes, and saves his city.
An affix is a meaningful element added to a root in order to direct or change the root’s meaning.
A prefix is a word part placed before a root. Prefixes are short but mighty. A knowledge of prefixes
can help you unlock the meaning of difficult SAT words. Many vocabulary books contain long lists
of Latin and Greek prefixes. Many like ANTI (against), SUB (under), and MULTI (many) are
well-known and obvious. Still others, like PERI (around), generate few if any words tested on the
SAT. This chapter will focus on five sets of the most widely-used prefixes on the SAT. Learning
them is thus of PARAMOUNT (vital) importance.
A suffix is a word part that is added to the end of a root or word. We are including in this chapter
a number of words ending with the suffix –OUS, by far the most useful suffix on the SAT.
A. E AND EX: THE MIGHTY PREFIXES E AND EX TELL YOU
THAT THINGS ARE GOING OUT
The prefixes E and EX are UBIQUITOUS (Word 48). You are familiar with them in everyday words
such as EXIT, EXTINGUISH, and ERASE. The prefixes E and EX always mean OUT. Here are
seven frequently used SAT words that begin with the prefixes E and EX:
156 |
EXPUNGE, EXCISE, EXPURGATE
To take OUT; to delete; to remove
In the movie 300, Xer a t Tfy a txes threatened to EXPUNGE all memory of Sparta and Leonidas:
“Every piece of Greek parchment shall be burned, every Greek historian and every Greek scribe shall
have his eyes put out and his thumbs cut off. Ultimately the very name of Sparta or Leonidas will be
punishable by death. The world will never know you existed.”
Xerxes failed to carry out his threat to EXCISE the names of Sparta and King Leonidas from the
historic record. However, a powerful Egyptian Pharaoh, Thutmose III, did succeed in
EXPURGATING the name of his stepmother, Hatshepsut, from Egyptian monuments. A female
pharaoh, Hatshepsut reigned for nearly 20 years in the 15th century BCE. Possibly motivated by
jealousy, Thutmose ruthlessly defaced his stepmother’s monuments and EXPURGATED her name
from historic records. All memory of Hatshepsut was lost until 19th century Egyptologists
rediscovered her monuments and restored her place in history.
157 |
ECCENTRIC
Literally OUT of the center; departing from a recognized, conventional, or
established norm; an odd, UNCONVENTIONAL (Word 7) person
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants is very ECCENTRIC in his
mannerisms. When he wants to blow a bubble or draw a circle, he always performs a strange
procedure. To blow a perfect bubble, he spins around, double takes three times, and enacts a series of
other weird motions. To draw a circle, he draws an entire front portrait and then erases all of the
details. Although he might be a little ECCENTRIC, you can’t argue with his results. SpongeBob
always completes his work to perfection.
158 |
EXTRICATE
To get OUT of a difficult situation or entanglement
Have you ever had to EXTRICATE yourself from an embarrassing situation? If so, you are not alone.
In the movie School of Rock, Dewey Finn has to EXTRICATE himself from the embarrassing
situation he created by impersonating his friend and claiming to be a certified elementary substitute
teacher.
EXTRICATING yourself from a lie is embarrassing. However, being EXTRICATED from an
automobile crash can be a matter of life or death. Fortunately, emergency workers have a number of
tools specially designed to help EXTRICATE injured people from car wrecks and small spaces.
These cutters, spreaders, and rams are collectively called “Jaws of Life.”
159 |
EXEMPLARY
Standing OUT from the norm; outstanding; worthy of imitation
Have you ever been praised for writing an EXEMPLARY report, giving an EXEMPLARY answer,
or desi
EXEMPLARY project? If so, you should be proud of yourself. EXEMPLARY means to be
outstanding and thus worthy of imitation. Recording artists and actors are recognized for their
EXEMPLARY performances by receiving a VMA Moonman, a Grammy, or an Oscar. Scientists and
writers are honored for their EXEMPLARY work by receiving a Nobel Prize.
160 |
ENUMERATE
To count OUT; to list; to tick off the reasons for
What do Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, and Kat, the fictional
character in 10 Things I Hate About You, have in common? Both felt compelled to ENUMERATE
the reasons for an action. In the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson ENUMERATED reasons
why the colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. In a poem she read to her literature
class, Kat ENUMERATED 10 reasons why she claimed to “hate” Patrick.
161 |
ELUSIVE
OUT of reach and therefore difficult to catch, define, or describe
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and his father search for the ELUSIVE Holy
Grail. The Holy Grail is said to give eternal life, but it is hidden in an elaborate labyrinth. When
Jones and his father arrive at the castle to obtain the Grail, Jones’s father is fatally wounded and thus
needs the Grail to survive. “Indy” solves a series of three difficult riddles, obtains the holy cup that
has been ELUSIVE for so many years, and saves his father’s life.
162 |
EXORBITANT
Literally OUT of orbit and therefore unreasonably expensive
Serious competition in the NFL occurs both on and off the field. Football stadiums are being rebuilt,
each one more lavish than the last. Cowboys Stadium is proof that not only are things bigger in Texas,
they are also more EXORBITANT! The stadium features 300 luxury suites costing between
$100,000 and $500,000 a year with a 20-year lease. Although this may seem GRANDIOSE
(pretentious) to average fans, the suites provide “the ultimate football experience” by featuring
limestone floors, private restrooms, and a special parking lot. The reserved parking is a COVETED
(Word 32) feature. Parking is limited at Cowboys Stadium. As a result, regular football fans will pay
$75 for parking, a price many are calling EXORBITANT.
B. RE: THE MIGHTY PREFIX RE TELLS YOU THAT THINGS
ARE COMING BACK AGAIN AND AGAIN
The prefix RE means BACK or AGAIN. You are familiar with it in everyday words such as
REPEAT, REheieieieiefys his fgn="lef Xspan>WIND, and REVERSE. Here are 10 SAT words that
begin with the prefix RE:
163 |
REDUNDANT
Needlessly repetitive; saying things AGAIN and AGAIN
What do Justin Bieber and SAT teachers have in common? Both are REDUNDANT when they
emphasize a key point. In his hit song Baby, JB REDUNDANTLY repeats the word “baby” an
amazing 57 times. No wonder the song sticks in your mind! SAT teachers are also purposefully
REDUNDANT when they IMPLORE (urge) their students to study the vocabulary words in Direct
Hits. Here’s why: a level 1 and 2 vocabulary will only enable you to achieve a critical reading score
of about 450. You will need a level 3 vocabulary to achieve a score of about 580. Finally, you will
need a level 4 and 5 vocabulary to score 600 and up. So now you know why SAT teachers are so
REDUNDANT. Study your Direct Hits vocabulary!
Tip for a Direct Hit
On the SAT the word REDUNDANCY usually refers to the duplication or repetition of
equipment needed to provide a backup in case the primary systems fail. For example,
scuba equipment includes a REDUNDANT regulator in case there is a problem with the
main air regulator. This REDUNDANCY is an important safety precaution.
164 |
REPUDIATE, RECANT, RENOUNCE
To take BACK; to reject; to DISAVOW
“Martin, do you or do you not REPUDIATE these books and the falsehoods they contain?” The place
was the Diet of Worms. The time was April 1521. The question posed by the papal legate Johann Eck
required an answer. For Martin Luther, the moment of truth had finally arrived. How would Luther
respond?
Luther refused to REPUDIATE his words, defiantly declaring, “I cannot, I will not RECANT these
words. For to do so is to go against conscience. Here I stand!” Luther’s courageous refusal to
RENOUNCE his beliefs helped spark the Protestant Reformation.
165 |
RELINQUISH
To surrender or give back (or return) a possession, right, or privilege
The Arab Spring is the name given to the revolutionary wave of demonstrations that began all over
the Arab world in December 2010. In January 2011 in Egypt, after 18 days of angry mass protests,
President Hosni Mubarak, the longest serving ruler in modern times (30 years), was forced to
RELINQUISH his position. Power was transferred to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
(SCAF), and Mubarak was tried and sentenced to life in prison for ordering the killing of peaceful
demonstrators. In June 2012, after the first presidential election with more than one candidate since
2005, SCAF in turn RELINQUISHED its power to the newly-elected president, Mohammed Morsi.
166 |
RESILIENT
Bouncing BACK from ADVERSITY or misfortune; recovering quickly
Amy’s long wait for her SAT scores finally ended. She nervously accessed her College Board
account. Then as the numbers appeared on her computer screen, her heart sank. The scores were not
as good as she had hoped. What would Amy do? Would she make excuses and give up? Or would she
be RESILIENT and bounce back from a temporary setback? Amy chose to study even harder. Her
RESILIENCE worked. Her SAT scores shot up, and she received a scholarship to her top college
choice.
Amy’s story can be your story. The SAT is a challenging test. Don’t be discouraged if your first
results are not what you hoped for. Stay focused, study hard, and be RESILIENT!
167 |
REAFFIRM
To assert AGAIN; to confirm; state positively
Given at the height of the Cold War, John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural Address REAFFIRMED his
commitment to freedom when he pledged that America would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet
any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.” Given
at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech REAFFIRMED
King’s faith in the American dream: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
168 |
RETICENT
Holding BACK one’s thoughts, feelings and personal affairs; restrained or reserved
When Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, media outlets speculated that the high-profile
divorce would be an ACRIMONIOUS (Word 198) one. However, both Holmes and Cruise were
RETICENT to discuss their feelings or the reasons behind the divorce, despite the media frenzy that
followed. Tabloids published LURID (Word 313) stories about the couple’s marriage, and media
outlets featured dozens of PUNDITS (Word 117) offering their “expert” opinions and theories about
the couple’s divorce proceedings, prenuptial agreement, and religious beliefs. Less than two weeks
after Holmes filed for divorce, the couple reached a settlement and issued a statement that confirmed
their RETICENCE to speak about thghttheeir personal affairs, saying, “We want to keep matters
affecting our family private.”
On July 20, 1969, the first man to step onto the surface of the moon, astronaut Neil Armstrong, issued
some of the most memorable APHORISMS (Word 434) of the 20th century: “Houston: Tranquility
Base here. The Eagle has landed. “ and “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for
mankind.” However, he was also known for his RETICENCE. Even though he was REVERED
(deeply respected or admired) as a hero and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his
work, he refused to give interviews, sign autographs, or make public appearances.
169 |
REBUFF
To repel or drive BACK; to bluntly reject
In the movie Superman Returns, Lois Lane REBUFFS Superman when she writes an article entitled,
“Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” In the movie Clueless, Cher claims that Mr. Hall “brutally
REBUFFED” her plea that he raise her debate grade. In her song “Your Love Is My Drug,” Ke$ha
remains RECALCITRANT (Word 15) as she REBUFFS all advice from her friends and family
about breaking up with her boyfriend. She says she “won’t listen to any advice,” even though
“momma’s telling me I should think twice.”
170 |
RENOVATE
To make new AGAIN (see Word 126); restore by repairing and remodeling
NOV is a Latin root meaning “new.” RENOVATE thus means to make new again. Hurricane Katrina
caused extensive damage in New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi. Business and community leaders
in both cities have vowed to undertake extensive RENOVATION projects to restore damaged
neighborhoods and revive tourism. For example, in 2007, actor Brad Pitt commissioned 13
architecture firms to submit designs for homes to help RENOVATE New Orleans’
IMPOVERISHED (Word 257) Lower Ninth Ward. The project, called Make It Right, calls for
building 150 affordable, environmentally-sound homes. By June 2012 they had already completed 75
of the houses.
171 |
REJUVENATE
To make young AGAIN; to restore youthful vigor and appearance
REJUVENATE is an enticing word. Everyone wants to look and feel young. Health spas promise to
REJUVENATE exhausted muscles, shampoos promise to REJUVENATE tired hair, and herbal
medicines promise to REJUVENATE worn-out immune systems.
Tip for a Direct Hit
The word REJUVENATE is formed by combining the prefix RE meaning “again” and the
Latin root juvenis meaning “young.” So REJUVENATE literally means to be young again.
172 |
RESURGENT
Rising AGAIN; sweeping or surging BACK
Apple Computer was founded on April 1, 1976. After great initial success, the company suffered
crippling financial losses. However, Apple proved to be RESILIENT (Word 166), starting in 1998
with the release of the iMac computer, which featured a unique design and new technology. Over the
following years, the RESURGENT company introduced a series of INNOVATIVE (Word 126) and
popular products that included the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. With its commitment to
INNOVATION and sleek design, Apple has risen to be the most profitable technology company in
the world.
173 |
REPUGNANT
ABHORRENT; offensive to the mind or senses; causing distaste or AVERSION
What do a bad smell, cheating on an exam, and cannibalism have in common? They are all
REPUGNANT to us, either physically or morally. Things that some people may find REPUGNANT
are other people’s political views, the use of animals in scientific experiments, and the eating of
meat. Many consider the Confederate flag a REPUGNANT symbol of slavery.
In the movie Animal House, one of the most iconic raunchy comedies, smug Omega fraternity
president Greg Marmalard describes the activities of the Delta House with REPUGNANCE: “A
Roman toga party was held, from which we have received two dozen reports of individual acts of
perversion so profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.”
KNOW YOUR ROOTS
LATIN ROOT:
PUGN, PUG | fighting (from pugnus, a fist)
PUGNACIOUS disposed to fight, quarrelsome, combative
a boxer, one who fights with his fists
PUGILIST
REPUGNANCE fighting back, extreme dislike, AVERSION, disgust, ANIPATHY
to fight against, attack, challenge the motives of
IMPUGN
C. DE: THE MIGHTY PREFIX DE TELLS YOU THAT THINGS
ARE HEADED DOWN, DOWN, DOWN
The prefix DE means DOWN. You are familiar with DE in such everyday words as DEMOLISH,
DECLINE, and DEPRESS. Here are eight SAT words that begin with the prefix DE:
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DELETERIOUS
Going DOWN in the sense of having a harmful effect; injurious
What do you think is the fastest growing cause of disease and death in America? The surprising and
tragic answer is obesity. As a result of being SEDENTARY (lacking physical activity) and
practicing unhealthy eating habits, an UNPRECEDENTED (Word 285) number of Americans are
carrying excess body weight. This excess weight can have a number of DELETERIOUS effects,
including heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
A tragic series of recent teen suicides has revealed the DELETERIOUS effects of bullying. The
PREVALENCE (Word 48) of bullying in schools and on the internet has created a NOXIOUS
(Word 323) environment for children and teenagers. In response to the tragedies, the media is
shedding light on bullying and its DELETERIOUS effects. ABC Family created a campaign called
Delete Digital Drama in order to help end cyberbullying. The Cartoon Network has also started a
campaign called Stop Bullying Speak Up, which teaches children what to do when they observe
instances of bullying. Lady Gaga has spoken out about her experience with bullying and has vowed to
make bullying illegal.
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DECRY
To put DOWN in the sense of openly condemning; to express strong disapproval
During the 1920s, American novelists such as Sinclair Lewis DECRIED the era’s rampant
materialism and conformity. Three decades later, Jack Kerouac and other Beat Generation writers
also DECRIED sterile middle-class conformity while celebrating spontaneous individualism and
creativity through their BOHEMIAN (characteristic of artists or intellectuals who live without
regard for conventional rules) lifestyles.
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DESPONDENT, MOROSE
DOWNCAST; very dejected; FORLORN
No character is as DESPONDENT as Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. An old gray donkey, Eeyore is
characterized by his mopey and pessimistic nature. Just look at how Eeyore feels about his birthday:
“After all, what are birthdays? Here today and gone tomorrow.”
You have to feel bad for DESPONDENT Eeyore if he can’t even enjoy his own birthday! Luckily,
his friends Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet help tomer0em> ALLEVIATE (Word 31) his MOROSE mood.
During their 19 years together, Mumtaz Mahal gave Emperor Shah Jahan 14 children. When she
suddenly died during childbirth, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken. The now MOROSE emperor
canceled all appointments and refused to eat or drink for eight days. One historian recorded that when
Mumtaz Mahal died, the emperor was in danger of dying himself. When he finally recovered, Shah
Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a mausoleum for his beloved wife.
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DENOUNCE
To put DOWN in the sense of a making a formal accusation; to speak against
The pages of history contain a number of inspiring examples of brave individuals who
DENOUNCED corruption, tyranny, and moral abuses. Voltaire DENOUNCED the Old Regime in
France, William Lloyd Garrison DENOUNCED slavery, Rachel Carson DENOUNCED the use of
chemical pesticides, and Nelson Mandela DENOUNCED apartheid.
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DEMISE
Sent DOWN in the sense of ending in death; the cessation of existence or activity
What do the dinosaurs and the Whig Party have in common? Each met with a sudden and unexpected
DEMISE. Paleontologists now believe that a giant asteroid struck the Earth about 65 million years
ago, causing the DEMISE of the dinosaurs and many other plants and animals. Historians point out
that the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854 brought about the final DEMISE of the Whig Party while at the
same time sparking the rise of the Republican Party. Note that the word DEMISE is formed by
combining the prefix de meaning “down” with the Latin root misS meaning “to send” (see KNOW
YOUR ROOTS p. 47). So DEMISE literally means “to send down.”
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DEBUNK
To put DOWN by exposing false and exaggerated claims
Because the public has always been fascinated by the lives of celebrities, publishers have made a
fortune by capitalizing on this interest and producing magazines and tabloids filled with LURID
(Word 313) gossip and rumors. In the past, celebrities have been helpless in DEBUNKING these
rumors. Today, however, celebrities have found Twitter to be a useful way to DEBUNK the myths
a n d HEARSAY (rumors) about their lives. Justin Bieber tweeted, “correcting rumors…
#ilovetwitter.” Talk about Jennifer Aniston’s personal life constantly swirls about the internet and
gossip magazines. Aniston once joked, “I should get a Twitter account just for rumor control.”
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DERIDE, DERISIVE
To put DOWN with contemptuous jeering; to ridicule or laugh at
The long-running animated sitcom South Park is famous for its DERISIVE approach to all aspects of
society, from the government to religions to celebrities like Tom Cruise, Kanye West, and the Jersey
Shore cast. The ICONOCLASTIC (Word 107) show’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone refuse
to be DEFERENTIAL (Word 216) to any subject, and they call themselves “equal opportunity
offenders.” No subject is sacred enough to escape being SATIRIZED (Word 233) on the
IRREVERENT (Word 187) comedy. South Park’ s DERISIVE tone is set through this
FACETIOUS (Word 362) disclaimer that airs before each episode: “All characters and events in
this show—even those based on real people—are entirely fictional. All celebrity voices are
impersonated… poorly. The following program contains coarse language and due to its content
should not be viewed by anyone.”
DERISION is not limited to the television shows. New artistic styles have often been DERIDED by
both the public and critics. For example, Edouard Manet’s painting “Luncheon on the Grass”
provoked a storm of scorn and DERISION. Hostile critics were DERISIVE, calling Manet an
“apostle of the ugly and repulsive.”
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DEVOID
DOWN in the sense of being empty; completely lacking in substance or quality;
BEREFT; vacant
What is the worst movie you have ever seen? Why did you select this movie? You probably chose the
movie because it was DEVOID of humor, plot, and decent acting. Here is a list of movies that were
panned by critics for being DEVOID of all redeeming value: Battlefield Earth, Gigli, Godzilla,
From Justin to Kelly, Glitter, Speed Racer, Jack and Jill, One For The Money.
D. IM, IN AND IR: THESE MIGHTY LATIN PREFIXES ALL
TELL YOU NO OR NOT
The prefixes IM, IN, IR, and IL are actually different forms of the same prefix: IN, which means NO
or NOT. You are familiar with this prefix in everyday words such as INCOMPETENT,
IMMATURE, IRREPLACEABLE, and ILLEGAL. See p. 100 for five other prefixes that also
exist in different forms. Here are seven words that begin with variations of the prefix IN.
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IMPECCABLE
Having NO flaws; perfectIR dg >
Look closely at the word IMPECCABLE. The prefix IM means “no,” and the Latin verb peccare
means “to sin.” So the word IMPECCABLE literally means to have no sin and thus to be flawless or
perfect.
Do you open doors for your girlfriend and say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” when speaking to adults?
If so, you are demonstrating IMPECCABLE manners. Do you complete your homework assignments
in advance and study for all your tests? If so, you are demonstrating IMPECCABLE judgment.
Whether manners or judgment, IMPECCABLE always means flawless. You can also show
IMPECCABLE taste and dress IMPECCABLY.
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IMPLACABLE
NOT capable of being PLACATED (Word 390) or appeased
In his quest to fight for “truth, justice, and the American way,” Superman must defeat Lex Luther and
other IMPLACABLE foes. Superman is not alone in his struggle against IMPLACABLE villains.
Spider-Man must defeat the Green Goblin, and Batman’s most IMPLACABLE enemy is the Joker.
In the Twilight SAGA (Word 236), the Cullens must deal with the powerful and IMPLACABLE
Volturi coven of vampires. The Volturi, the unofficial royalty of the vampire world, pride themselves
on their ability to rule all other vampires. The Volturi envy the gifts and abilities of the Cullen
vampires and fear their growing strength. Though the Cullens try to appease the Volturi by obeying the
laws governing the vampire world, the IMPLACABLE Volturi will not rest until the Cullen clan has
been disbanded.
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INEXORABLE
NOT capable of being stopped; relentless; inevitable
Although it was a luxury liner, the Titanic did not have the advanced warning systems that modern
ships have today. The Titanic did have six lookout guards who stood in the crow’s nest and kept a
VIGILANT (watchful, alert) lookout for passing icebergs that could endanger the ship. At 11:40 p.m.
on April 15, 1912, Frederick Fleet suddenly spotted an iceberg directly in the ship’s path. Fleet
urgently informed the bridge, and frantic officers ordered emergency maneuvers. But the ship was
traveling too fast. It was on an INEXORABLE course to hit the iceberg. The Titanic sank 2 hours
and 40 minutes after Fleet’s fateful warning.
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INCOHERENT
NOT coherent and therefore lacking organization; lacking logical or meaningful
connections
One of the most INCOHERENT statements ever recorded wat sb>[email protected] uttered in 2007 by a
contestant in the Miss Teen USA Pageant. The contestant was told that a recent poll showed that onefifth of Americans cannot locate the United States on a map. She was asked to explain why. Here is
her response in all of its INCOHERENT glory:
“I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some … people out
there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our, uh, education like such as in South
Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education
over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help
the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.”
She later explained that she was flustered by the question and possibly redeemed herself by reanswering the question more coherently on television.
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INSURMOUNTABLE
NOT capable of being surmounted or overcome
Beginning in the 1850s, far-seeing American leaders dreamed of building a transcontinental railroad
that would bind the nation together. But SKEPTICS (Word 102) argued that while the railroad was a
worthy goal, it would face a series of INSURMOUNTABLE obstacles that included hostile Plains
Indians and the towering, snow-clogged Sierra Nevada mountains. Crews that at times included over
15,000 workers repelled the Indians and blasted tunnels through the mountains. The once
INSURMOUNTABLE task was completed when Leland Stanford used a silver sledge-hammer to
drive in the final golden spike on May 10, 1869.
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IRREVERENT
Lacking proper respect or seriousness; disrespectful
Even though they go to church every Sunday and pray at the dinner table before many meals, the TV
Simpson family members are well-known for their IRREVERENT jokes and witticisms. Journalist
Mark Pinsky wrote: “The Simpsons is consistently IRREVERENT toward organized religion’s
failings and excesses.”
Here is one example of an IRREVERENT discussion with God.
Homer to God: “I’m not a bad guy. I work hard and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my
Sunday hearing about how I’m going to hell?”
God: “Hmm, you’ve got a point there. You know sometimes even I’d rather be watching football.”
Here is another:
“Dear God, this is Marge Simpson. If you stop this hurricane and save our family, we will be
forever grateful and recommend you to all our friends.”
Hyriad Pro Cond">188 |
IRRESOLUTE
NOT RESOLUTE (Word 359); uncertain how to act or proceed; INDECISIVE;
VACILLATING (Word 371)
Hamlet’s father’s ghost has assigned Hamlet the task of avenging his father’s murder. He knows that
his uncle Claudius is the murderer, and he has plenty of opportunity, but since he is an
IRRESOLUTE and MELANCHOLY (gloomy) character given to obsessive brooding, he tends to
overanalyze the situation to such a degree that he cannot act. Instead, he IRRESOLUTELY thinks,
debates, delays, and seeks further proof. Finally, disgusted by his own feeble IRRESOLUTION, he
observes the Norwegian prince Fortinbras, who with much less cause is engaged in much more
action. He ends this famous soliloquy with the RESOLUTE declaration: “O, from this time forth, My
thoughts be bloody or be nothing worth!”
A CIRCUIT is a circular course or journey, like that of the earth around the sun.
KNOW YOUR LATIN PREFIXES
In the course of the expansion of the Roman Empire and the relaxation of pronunciation over time,
many Latin prefixes that end with a consonant often (but not always) changed their spelling to match
the first letter of the roots to which they were attached. This process is called ASSIMILATION,
because the root assimilates the prefix and the neighboring sounds become similar. Some other
examples of such prefixes, besides IN-, are below.
DIS- apart
AD- to, toward
DIFFER—to set apart
ACCURATE—done with care, exact
AFFECT—to do something to, to have influence on DISPEL—to push in different directions
ANNOTATE—to add notes to
OB- against, toward
ADVENTURE—to take a risk, venture toward
OFFER—to bring toward, to present
(Ad- does not assimilate here before the v)
OCCUR—to run against, to happen
COM- with
SUB- under, up from below
COLLOQUIUM—a speaking together
SUFFER—to carry under
COMMIT—to send with
SUGGEST—to bring up
(Com- does not need to change here)
SUBTITLE—a subordinate or additional title
CORRUPT—to break with, spoil
(Sub- does not assimilate here)
E. CIRCU: WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND
The prefix CIRCU means AROUND. You are familiar with it in everyday words such as
CIRCUMFERENCE, CIRCUIT, and CIRCULATION. Here are four SAT words that begin with the
prefix CIRCU:
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CIRCUMSPECT
Looking carefully around—thus cautious and careful; PRUDENT; discreet
In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope cautiously refuses to recognize the much-changed returned Odysseus
until he describes their bed, which was built around an olive tree, its trunk functioning as one of the
bedposts. No one but her husband would know this fact. Hearing this, the cautious and
CIRCUMSPECT Penelope is persuaded of the stranger’s identity and joyfully welcomes him home.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laertes cautions his sister Ophelia to be more CIRCUMSPECT in her
dealings with Hamlet, a prince whose will is not his own. Laertes says,” Then weigh what loss your
honor may sustain/ If with too credent ear you list his songs.... Be wary then; best safety lies in fear.”
Then Polonius, Ophelia and Laertes’s father, REITERATES (repeats) the same message, ordering
her: “Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence.” He hopes that such CIRCUMSPECTION will
protect her from being dishonored and abandoned.
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CIRCUITOUS
CIRCULAR and therefore indirect in language, behavior, or action, roundabout
In the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets , Benjamin Franklin Gates’ great-great grandfather
is suddenly implicated as a key conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s death. Determined to prove his
ancestor’s innocence, Ben follows a chain of clues that leads him on a CIRCUITOUS chase that
begins in Paris and then takes him to Buckingham Palace in London, the White House, a secret tunnel
under Mount Vernon, the Library of Congress, and finally Mount Rushmore. On this CIRCUITOUS
journey Ben and his crew uncover a number of startling revelations and secrets.
A CIRCUIT is a circular course or journey, like that of the earth around the sun.
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CIRCUMVENT
To circle AROUND and therefore bypass; to avoid by artful maneuvering
During the 1920s, Al Capone and other gangsters built profitable illegal businesses by
CIRCUMVENTING prohibition laws. Today, illegal businesses continue to CIRCUMVENT our
laws. For example, drug lords annually smuggle over 100 tons of cocaine and other illegal drugs into
the United States.
Sometimes nations CIRCUMVENT international law. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty in 1970. Nonetheless, many believe that the Iranian government is now CIRCUMVENTING
the international agreements by secretly developing a program to build nuclear weapons.
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CIRCUMSCRIBE
To draw a line AROUND and therefore to narrowly limit or restrict actions
What do Juliet (Romeo and Juliet), Janie Crawford (Their Eyes Were Watching God), and Viola
Hastings (She’s The Man) have in common? Although they live in very different times and places, all
face restrictions that CIRCUMSCRIBE their freedom. Juliet wants to marry Romeo but can’t
because her family CIRCUMSCRIBES her freedom by insisting she marry Count Paris. Janie wants
to socialize with a variety of people but can’t because her husband CIRCUMSCRIBES her freedom
by refusing to let her participate in the rich social life that occurs on the front porch of their general
store. And Viola wants to try out for the boys soccer team but can’t because the coach
CIRCUMSCRIBES her freedom by contending that girls aren’t good enough to play with boys.
F. -OUS: THIS ALL-IMPORTANT SUFFIX MEANS FILLED
WITH OR HAVING THE QUALITIES OF
The suffix -OUS means filled with or HAVING THE QUALITIES OF. You are familiar with it in
everyday words such as JOYOUS, COURAGEOUS, and POISONOUS. Here are 13 SAT words that
end with the suffix -OUS:
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MAGNANIMOUS
Filled with generosity and forgiveness; forgoing resentment and revenge
On first glance, MAGNANIMOUS looks like a “big” and difficult SAT word. But looks can be
deceiving. Let’s use our knowledge of prefixes, roots, and the suffix -OUS to divide and conquer
MAGNANIMOUS!
The prefix magna is easy to recognize. It means “big” as in the word MAGNIFY. The root anim
comes from the Latin animex meaning “breath” or soul. An animal is thus a living, breathing thing,
and an inanimate object lacks a spirit. And finally, the suffix - OUS means “is filled with” or “having
the qualities of.” So MAGNANIMOUS literally means “filled with a great spirit” and therefore
generous and forgiving. For example, following Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Grant
MAGNANIMOUSLY allowed the Confederate officers to keep their side arms and permitted
soldiers to keep personal horses and mules. The Union troops then MAGNANIMOUSLY saluted as
their defeated foes marched past them.
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ERRONEOUS
Filled with errors; wrong
Lil Wayne’s PENCHANT (Word 62) for tattoos is well known. Fascinated fans have deciphered the
meaning of most of Wheezy’s MYRIAD (Word 352) tats. However, the three teardrops on his face
remain a source of controversy. Many believe that they represent people Lil Wayne has killed. This
belief is ERRONEOUS and totally UNCORROBORATED (unsupported). In his song “Hustler
Musik,” Wheezy clearly states that he has never killed anyone. The three tear-drops actually represent
family members who have been killed.
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MOMENTOUS
Filled with importance; very significant
In 1960 lunch counters throughout the South remained segregated. While moderates urged patience,
Joe McNeil and three other black college students disagreed. Calling segregation “evil pure and
simple,” the four students sat down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina,
and ordered coffee and apple pie. Although the waitress refused to serve them, the students remained
STEADFAST (fixed, unswerving) in their determination to desegregate the dining area. Now known
as the Greensboro Four, the students ultimately prevailed. The sit-in movement begun by the
Greensboro Four had MOMENTOUS consequences. Just four years later, the Civil Rights Act of
1964 MANDATED (ordered) desegregation in all public places.
196 |
MELLIFLUOUS
Smooth and sweet; flowing like honey
Let’s divide and conquer the seemingly difficult SAT word, MELLIFLUOUS. The Latin roots mel
meaning “honey” and fluus meaning “flow” are the key to understanding MELLIFLUOUS.
MELLIFLUOUS is literally “filled with flowing honey.” It almost always is used to describe
singers who have sweet-sounding voices. For example, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Otis
Redding, and Usher are all renowned for their smooth, MELLIFLUOUS voices.
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OMINOUS
Filled with menace; threatening
An omen is a sign indicating that something good or bad will happen. The word OMINOUS is filled
with bad omens that PORTEND (foretell) the imminent arrival of something that will be both
menacing and threatening. For example, scientists warn that melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and
rising temperatures are all OMINOUS signs that global warming is getting worse at an alarming rate.
198 |
ACRIMONIOUS
Filled with bitterness; sharpness in words; RANCOROUS
What do the words ACRIMONIOUS, ACID, ACRID (Word 211), and ACERBIC (Word 211) have
in common? All four are derived from the Proto-Indo-European root ak-, which means “to be sharp,
to rise to a point, to pierce.” From that ancient source we get the Latin adjective acer (masculine
form), acris (feminine), acre (neuter) meaning sharp, pungent, bi>acidus, meaning sharp and sour.
Celebrity divorces often degenerate into ACRIMONIOUS contests over money and child custody.
While the couples do not throw acid at each other, they often don’t hesitate to hurl ACRIMONIOUS
accusations at their spouses. For example, Denise Richards alleged that Charlie Sheen was
“unfaithful and abusive,” while Britney Spears called Kevin Federline “the biggest mistake I’ve ever
made.” Needless to say, celebrity magazines are only too happy to CHRONICLE (record) all the
ACRIMONIOUS allegations made by the stars and their lawyers.
199 |
COPIOUS
Filled with abundance; plentiful
What do the Greek god Zeus, the Thanksgiving horn of plenty, the SAT word COPIOUS, and The
Hunger Games have in common? According to Greek mythology, the cornucopia refers to the horn of
a goat that nursed Zeus. The horn had supernatural powers and soon became a symbol of fertility and
plenty. In America, the cornucopia has come to be associated with the Thanksgiving harvest. The
SAT word COPIOUS is derived from the Latin word copia meaning “plenty,” so COPIOUS means
filled with plenty and abundant. In The Hunger Games, the arena features a giant horn called the
Cornucopia that contains COPIOUS amounts of weapons, food, medicine, and other survival
equipment. When the Games begin, many of the tributes race to the Cornucopia to fight each other for
the best supplies.
200 |
ABSTEMIOUS
Filled with moderation; TEMPERATE (Word 89) in eating and drinking
Abs is a Latin prefix meaning “away or off.” For example, absent students are away from school. The
Latin word temetum means an intoxicating drink. So if you are ABSTEMIOUS, you are filled with a
desire to stay away from strong drinks. Today, an ABSTEMIOUS person can also be moderate or
TEMPERATE in eating.
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MALODOROUS
Filled with an unpleasant odor; foul-smelling
What do stink bugs and skunks have in common? Both can EMIT (give off) a MALODOROUS
smell. If disturbed, stink bugs emit a liquid whose MALODOROUS smell is due to cyanide
compounds. Skunks are notorious for their MALODOROUS scent glands, which emit a highly
offensive smell usually described as a combination of the odors of rotten eggs, garlic, and burnt
rubber. The skunk’s MALODOROUS smell is a defensive weapon that repels predators and can be
detected up to a mile away.
wit QQQQ TN
202 |
TEDIOUS
Filled with boredom; very tiresome; dull and fatiguing
What do studying long lists of vocabulary words and taking practice tests have in common? Most
students find these tasks very TEDIOUS. Direct Hits is designed to make studying vocabulary much
l ess TEDIOUS. In fact, we hope that you have found Volume 1 to be an interesting learning
experience that has helped you speak more eloquently, write more convincingly, and, of course, score
higher on your tests!
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HEINOUS, EGREGIOUS
Flagrantly, conspicuously bad; abominable; shockingly evil; monstrous; outrageous
HEINOUS crimes are those that are revolting to the average person, often referred to as Crimes of
Mor al TURPITUDE (evil). Perhaps the most INFAMOUS (widely but unfavorably known)
PERPETRATOR (person who commits a bad act) of HEINOUS acts was Adolf Hitler, the German
Nazi implementer of the crimes of the Holocaust.
EGREGIOUS acts are not quite as stunningly monstrous as to be HEINOUS, but they are still
shockingly bad. Doping in sports is considered one of the most EGREGIOUS things an athlete can
do, particularly at the Olympics. Athletes can face public warnings, sanctions, and even lifetime bans
for the most EGREGIOUS cases. They can be sent home in disgrace and stripped of their Olympic
medals.
You can use EGREGIOUS in a slightly HYPERBOLIC (Word 234) way, too, so that you might
refer to EGREGIOUS grammar errors or EGREGIOUS handwriting.
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GRATUITOUS
Unwarranted; not called for by the circumstances; unnecessary
Artistic works, like movies or novels, are sometimes criticized for containing GRATUITOUS, or
unnecessary, scenes that do not seem INTRINSIC (essential) to the work but seem to be included
merely to TITILLATE (excite pleasurably) the audience or sell more tickets. For instance, many feel
that the violence in Quentin Tarantino’s films, such as Kill Bill, is over the top and TANGENTIAL
(only superficially relevant, digressive) to the plot. Many horror movies have been criticized for
scenes of GRATUITOUS sex and nudity.
On another note, the original meaning of GRATUITY was a tip, something extra, not necessary or
required but given freely to a waiter, porter, or driver as an extra payment for services rendered.
These days a GRATUITY is usually exn>< QQQQQ porterOn pected and is sometimes even added
to the bill.
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PRECARIOUS, PERILOUS
Uncertain; characterized by a lack of security or stability
Climbing Mt. Everest, the world’s highest mountain, with a peak at 8,850 meters (29,035 ft) above
sea level, is PRECARIOUS in the best of conditions. Recently climbers have encountered even
more PERILOUS conditions with the light snowfall, steep icy slopes, and low oxygen levels, as
well as a human “traffic jam” between the last staging camp and the summit, aptly named the “death
zone.” At the end of the 2012 hiking season an estimated 150 climbers rushed to take advantage of a
short window of good weather, creating even more PRECARIOUS conditions and causing the deaths
of at least four climbers.
Since the economic crash in 2008 many Americans have found themselves in a PRECARIOUS
financial situation. For the first time student loan debt has SURPASSED (to go beyond) credit card
debt, 40 percent of homes in the U.S. are now worth less than the mortgage debt, and the job market
continues to be weak.
On every PSAT, SAT, and AP English exam there are questions that ask about an author’s
ATTITUDE, the author’s or speaker’s TONE, or the MOOD of a passage. The attitude, tone, or
mood can be identified by examining the language and word choices in a passage. One way to
think about TONE is that it is very akin to TONE OF VOICE.
To determine the tone of a passage, you may find these steps helpful:
1. Underline the descriptive words in the passage. These can be adjectives, adverbs, verbs, and
nouns.
2. Identify the connotations of these words. Are they positive or negative? Or perhaps neutral?
3. Characterize the feelings the connotations generate.
4. Decide if there are hints that the speaker may not really mean everything he or she says. Such
NUANCES (Word 361) might lead you to identify an IRONIC (Word 231) tone.
5. Visualize the expression on the speaker’s face, for instance a WRY (Word 6) smile or a
contemptuous smirk.
6. Listen to the passage. What is the author’s TONE OF VOICE?
In addition to the tone words you have already encountered, like AMBIVALENT (Word 1),
SARCASTIC (Word 3), and NOSTALGIC (Word 23), we have included 20 additional tone words
that have appeared on recent tests.
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WISTFUL
Longing and yearning, tinged with MELANCHOLY (long-lasting sadness) and
PENSIVENESS (Word 214)
Legions of Harry Potter fans WISTFULLY prepared to watch the final film Harry Potter and The
Deathly Hallows–Part 2. A 14-year bond developed between the readers and the characters as many
fans between the ages of 14 and 24 grew up along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. These devotees
compare the end of the series to the end of their childhood.
In preparation for the EPIC (Word 236) finale, many fans conducted their own NOSTALGIC
(Word 23) RETROSPECTIVES (surveys of past events) by either rereading J.K. Rowling’s novels
or revisiting the film adaptations. One fan WISTFULLY summed it up this way: “Harry Potter is a
once-in-a-generation event.”
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EARNEST
Serious in intention or purpose; showing depth and SINCERITY of feelings
Adele wrote her song “Rolling in the Deep” on the same day she broke up with her boyfriend. The
lyrics display Adele’s SINCERE (genuine) belief that their relationship could have been very
special.
We could have had it all
Rolling in the deep
You had my heart inside of your hand
And you played it to the beat
When asked how she felt about her breakup, Adele did not sugarcoat the truth. She spoke
EARNESTLY: “I was really, really angry with my personal life up to about a year ago. I’ve grown
up a little as well, and I like to think I’ve blossomed into who I’m going to become.
Adele certainly did move on successfully. In May 2011 her song “Rolling in the Deep” became her
first #1 hit!
208 |
DISGRUNTLED, DISCONTENTED
Angry; dissatisfied; annoyed; impatient; irritated
Some of the top companies in the world work tirelessly to make sure that their employees are not
DISGRUNTLED. After all, happy employees are more productive than DISCONTENTED
employees. Google is exceptionally notable for the benefits it provides its employees. At the
Googleplex office in Mountain View, California, employees bring their pets to work, receive
complimentary gourmet meals, have gym and pool access, and much more. It is clear that Google
doesn’t want its employees to be DISGRUNTLED.
209 |
AUTHORITATIVE
Commanding and self-confident; likely to be respected and obeyed, based on
competent authority
In the film DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story , Peter LaFleur must compete and win a dodgeball
tournament to save his business, a gym called Average Joe’s. The employees of Average Joe’s rally
together to form an amateur dodgeball team. They enlist the help of Patches O’Houlihan, an
AUTHORITATIVE figure, to train and lead the team. Patches improves the dodgeball team through
some UNORTHODOX (Word 7) methods: throwing wrenches at the team, forcing them to dodge
oncoming cars, and constantly DERIDING (Word 180) them with insults. Patches’
AUTHORITATIVE manner inspires the Average Joe’s team to victory and ultimately saves the gym.
210 |
FRIVOLITY
The trait of being FRIVOLOUS; not serious or sensible
FRIVOLOUS
Lacking any serious purpose or value; given to trifling or levity
One form of FRIVOLOUS spending that has become UBIQUITOUS (Word 48) is bottled water.
Many bottled water companies simply sell municipal water; you can get the same water from your
tap. Also, if not properly recycled, disposable water bottles contribute to FRIVOLOUS waste. The
30 billion plastic water bottles that are thrown away each year can take thousands of years to
decompose. Using a reusable water bottle or canteen reduces FRIVOLOUS consumption, saves
money, and protects the environment.
211 |
ACERBIC, ACRID
Harsh, bitter, sharp, CAUSTIC (Word 242)
ACERBIC and ACRID both refer to the sharp and corrosive tone displayed by acid-tongued critics.
ACRID can also refer to an unpleasantly PUNGENT (sharp) smell or taste. Glee’s cheerleading
coach Sue Sylvester is famous for her ACERBIC comments directed at everyone around her. In one
episode, she tells a cheerleader, “I’m going to ask you to smell your armpits. That’s the smell of
failure, and it’s stinking up my office.” Since she holds a lot of ANIMOSITY (hatred) toward the
glee club, she takes particular delight in crafting ACERBIC and ACRID remarks at the expense of
Will Schuster, often DERIDING (Word 180) his haircut.
Charles McGrath wrote in the New York Times that Gore Vidal, “the novelist, essayist, screenwriter,
and all-around man of letters who died in July [2012] at the age of 86...was shown in several clips
from a PBS documentary being his usual ACERBIC, witty and elegant self: taking America to task
for needless wars, a bloated military-industrial complex, and political hypocrisy.”
212 |
n>n>n>n>n="leftNGan>SOLEMN,
GRAVE, SOMBER
Not cheerful or smiling; serious; gloomy
June 25, 2009, when the King of Pop died, marked a SOMBER day for the entire world. Michael
Jackson was regarded by many as the premier entertainer in both singing and dancing. Jackson’s
INNOVATIVE (Word 126) musical technique has influenced artists spanning all modern genres. His
death was an especially GRAVE event because Jackson was preparing for his final tour, This Is It.
213 |
INQUISITIVE
Curious; inquiring
In the music video for her song “Friday,” Rebecca Black makes a silly INQUISITIVE remark that
becomes the source of some parody. As she arrives at a crosswalk, she sees her friends driving to
school. Her friends EXHORT (Word 53) her to hop into the car. Rebecca responds by
INQUIRING:
Kickin’ in the front seat?
Sittin’ in the back seat?
Gotta make my mind up,
Which seat can I take?
After her music video was called “the worst video ever” by a comedian with a Twitter following,
INQUISITIVE YouTube users amassed over 167 million views and 3.1 million “dislikes,” helping
to create an “overnight sensation.”
214 |
REFLECTIVE, PENSIVE
Engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought, usually marked by
sadness or MELANCHOLY
The Thinker, a famous bronze and marble sculpture by August Rodin, depicts a PENSIVE man, that
is, one captured in deep thought. The pose of The Thinker, seated with one fist nestled under his chin,
has become very famous. The pose of deep REFLECTION has led many to believe that the man is
struggling with some form of internal conflict. The original sculpture is located in Paris, but there are
dozens of authentic cast replicas all over the world, including 13 in North America.
215 |
EQUIVOCAL
AMBIGUOUS (Word 21), open to interpretation, having several equally possible
meanings
EQUIVOCATE
To avoid making an explicit statement; to hedge; to use vague or AMBIGUOUS (see
KNOW YOUR ROOTS, p. 2) language
The classic movie The Graduate has a particularly EQUIVOCAL ending. Ben Braddock stt>e race
out of the church and board a bus. But then their smiles fade, and they become strangely silent.
The film’s AMBIGUOUS ending leaves the audience wondering if they really love each other and
what will happen to them in the future.
In election campaigns candidates often appear to be EQUIVOCATING, as if fearful of losing votes
by coming out too UNEQUIVOCALLY on one side or another of an issue.
Alfred Hitchcock COINED (Word 296) the term of what is now a commonly used plot device in
movies: the MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is a critically important object that drives the story forward, but
whose exact nature usually remains AMBIGUOUS and undefined. In the film Citizen Kane, the
meaning of the word “Rosebud” is the MacGuffin. In the movie Pulp Fiction, the briefcase is an
EQUIVOCAL MacGuffin. The briefcase is very important to the characters, yet we never see the
contents of the precious luggage. Fans of the movie often hypothesize and debate about the
AMBIGUOUS contents of the briefcase.
216 |
DEFERENTIAL
Respectful; dutiful
That Prince William’s wife, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge and future queen of England, is a
former commoner means that she must show proper DEFERENCE to the royal family, including
Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew. This DEFERENTIAL protocol is
outlined in the “Order Of Precedence Of The Royal Family,” which was recently revised by Queen
Elizabeth to take into account Kate’s non-royal origins.
On the hit Masterpiece Theater TV show Downton Abbey, the valet Bates must show proper
DEFERENCE to Lord Grantham, even though the two served together in the Boer war. In the highly
STRATIFIED (hierarchal, separated into a sequence of social levels) world of early 20th century
British society, his role as a servant requires that he be DEFERENTIAL.
217 |
EBULLIENT, ELATED, ECSTATIC, EUPHORIC, EXUBERANT
Feeling or expressing great happiness or triumph
The London Olympic Women’s Soccer final was a EUPHORIC day for the U.S. team. The
Americans won the gold medal against Japan and AVENGED (take vengeance or exact satisfaction
for) their defeat in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup final. The American team was ELATED to
win the third consecutive Olympic gold medal for the United States.
Even though the Japanese women were CRESTFALLEN (sad and disappointed) at the end of the
final game; they were EBULLIENT as they stood on the medndrdrdrdrdr d al stand to receive their
Olympic silver medals. (They also got to fly home in Business Class). The Canadian women’s team
was ECSTATIC when they received their bronze medals since they were the first Canadian team
sport to bring back a medal since the 1936 Berlin Olympic games.
Tip for a Direct Hit
The word EBULLIENT comes from the Latin verb ebullire, to bubble forth or be boisterous,
going back to bullire, to boil. So an EBULLIENT person is bubbly, upbeat, and highspirited.
218 |
BENEVOLENT
Well-meaning; kindly (see KNOW YOUR ROOTS, p. 61)
MALEVOLENT
Wishing evil to others, showing ill will
Mother Teresa was a BENEVOLENT Catholic nun who served the people of India for over 45
years, ministering to the poor, sick, and orphaned, while spreading a message of love. Mother Teresa
also founded a program called Missionaries of Charity, which supported soup kitchens, orphanages,
schools, and homes for people with HIV/AIDS. Mother Teresa’s BENEVOLENCE can be noted in
such sayings as:
“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.”
Perhaps the most MALEVOLENT of all historical figures was Hitler, who ordered the deaths of
millions of people during the Holocaust.
In Shakespeare’s Othello, Iago MALEVOLENTLY manipulates Othello into believing that his
loving and innocent wife, Desdemona, is unfaithful. The question of Iago’s motives remains one of the
most mysterious of literary enigmas. Perhaps he is simply evil.
219 |
WHIMSICAL
Playful; fanciful; CAPRICIOUS (Word 63); given to whimsies or odd notions
In Disney/Pixar’s Up, Carl Fredricksen lives in a quirky old house painted in lots of bright colors
surrounded by modern, sleek skyscrapers. His multicolored cottage adds a touch of WHIMSY to the
sterility of the neighborhood. His unique house becomes even more WHIMSICAL when he ties it to
thousands of colorful balloons and flies it through town. The citizens are delighted by the fanciful
flying house.
220 |
VINDICTIVE
sies>Having a strong desire for revenge
Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather chronicles the rise of Michael Corleone in his family’s
organized crime business. Michael is initially AMBIVALENT (Word 1) about joining the Mafia, but
after his father is almost assassinated, he declares his loyalty to the Corleone family business. As he
accumulates more power and rises to the top of the family, he becomes increasingly ruthless and
VINDICTIVE. When he becomes the Don of the Corleone family, he orchestrates a series of hits on
all of his enemies in order to “settle all family business.” His VINDICTIVE and vengeful behavior
continues throughout The Godfather trilogy, as he takes revenge on everyone with whom he has
grievances.
Country-pop star Taylor Swift is known for her autobiographical love songs, but her song “Better
Than Revenge” reveals a surprisingly VINDICTIVE side. In the song, Taylor describes a cruel girl
who stole her boyfriend. In the chorus, Taylor warns, “She should keep in mind there is nothing I do
better than revenge.” By filling her lyrics with CAUSTIC (Word 242) remarks about the girl, Taylor
seems to have gotten revenge through this song.
221 |
PROSAIC, MUNDANE
Dull; uninteresting; ordinary; commonplace; tedious; PEDESTRIAN (Word 303);
VAPID (Word 329); BANAL (Word 36); HACKNEYED (Word 36); unexceptional
Originally PROSAIC simply referred to PROSE, writing that was not POETRY. It referred to more
factual, unimaginative writing, having the character and form of PROSE. Then it did not have negative
NUANCES (Word 361), but it has now come to be used almost always in a PEJORATIVE
(negative, DISPARAGING (Word 93) sense.
You might refer to your tedious, unglamorous job as PROSAIC or to the MUNDANE monotony of
your PROSAIC life or to the unhelpful, HACKNEYED (Word 36) nature of someone’s PROSAIC
advice. If you are an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, you might want to label Ernest Hemingway’s simple,
straightforward prose style as PROSAIC but Fitzgerald’s more lyrical prose style as POETIC.
222 |
VITRIOLIC
Bitter; CAUSTIC (Word 242); ACERBIC (Word 211); filled with malice
In the movie Horrible Bosses, Nick Hendricks suffers as an employee of his incredibly demanding
and VITUPERATIVE (Word 355) boss, Dave Harken. Dave mocks Nick constantly and berates him
with VITRIOLIC outbursts. When Nick tries to quit his job in order to escape the abuse, Dave
threatens, “Let me tell you something, you stupid little runt. I own you. … So don’t walk around here
thinking you have free will because you don’t. I could crush you anytime I want. So settle in, ’cause
youfacacacacacaNGave are here for the long haul.”
223 |
CONCILIATORY
Appeasing, intending to PLACATE (Word 390)
In Animal House, Dean Wormer meets with the town’s mayor to arrange the annual Faber College
homecoming parade. The mayor tells him, “If you want the homecoming parade in my town, you have
to pay.” At first, Wormer says that it’s wrong to extort money from the college, but the mayor
continues to demand payment. Wormer eventually assumes a CONCILIATORY tone and offers to
“arrange a nice honorarium from the student fund.” The offer PLACATES (Word 390) the mayor,
and he agrees to hold the parade in the town.
224 |
DESPAIRING
Showing the loss of all hope
After the stock market crash of 1929, the majority of the American public was DESPAIRING. One
author described the general public emotion as “fear mixed with a VERTIGINOUS (Word 402)
disorientation.” So many had lost their life savings, and were thrust into a life of poverty. The
feelings of DESPAIR only increased throughout the 12-year-long Great Depression, which concluded
with the American mobilization for World War II.
225 |
INFLAMMATORY
Arousing; intended to inflame a situation or ignite angry or violent feelings
Are you familiar with the online practice of “trolling”? PC magazine defines a troll as an online user
who posts INFLAMMATORY and DEROGATORY (disrespectful) remarks simply to stimulate
emotions. For example, a troll might visit a YouTube video regarding the latest Mac release and post
an INFLAMMATORY remark about Apple computers just to provoke angry responses.
INFLAMMATORY RHETORIC (the art of speaking and writing) has become PERVASIVE
(widespread) in political debates over such PARTISAN (Word 108) issues as abortion, illegal
immigration, healthcare, and raising or lowering taxes.
Volume 1 contains 225 words, each of which is illustrated with vivid pop culture, historic, and
literary examples. The Fast Review is designed to provide you with an easy and efficient way to
review each of these words. We recommend that you put a check beside each word that you know.
That way you can quickly identify the words you are having trouble remembering. Focus on each
hard-to-remember word by going over its definition, reviewing its examples, and trying to come up
with your own memory tip.
Good luck with your review. Don’t expect to learn all of these words at once. Frequent repetition
is the best way to learn and remember new words.
CHAPTER 1: CORE VOCABULARY I
1.
AMBIVALENT—Having mixed or opposing feelings at the same time
2.
ANOMALY—Deviation from the norm or what is expected
ANOMALOUS—ATYPICAL, full of ANOMALIES
3.
SARCASTIC, SARDONIC, SNIDE—Mocking; derisive; taunting; stinging
4.
DEARTH, PAUCITY—A scarcity or shortage of something
5.
PRATTLE—To speak in a foolish manner; to babble incessantly
6.
WRY, DROLL—Dry; humorous with a clever twist and a touch of irony
7.
UNCONVENTIONAL, UNORTHODOX—Not ordinary or typical; characterized by
avoiding customary conventions and behaviors
8. METICULOUS, PAINSTAKING, FASTIDIOUS—Extremely careful; very EXACTING
9. AUDACIOUS—Fearlessly, often recklessly daring; very bold
10. INDIFFERENT, APATHETIC—Marked by a lack of interest or concern;
NONCHALANT
11. DIFFIDENT, SELF-EFFACING—Hesitant due to a lack of self-confidence;
unassertive; shy; retiring
12. PRAGMATIC—Practical; sensible; NOT idealistic or romantic
13. EVOCATION—An imaginative re-creation of something; a calling forth
14. PRESUMPTUOUS—Taking liberties; brashly overstepping one’s place; impertinently
bold; displaying EFFRONTERY
15. RECALCITRANT—Stubbornly resistant and defiant; OBSTINATE; OBDURATE;
REFRACTORY; disobedient
16. BOON—A timely benefit; blessing
BANE—A source of harm and ruin
17. CLANDESTINE, SURREPTITIOUS—Secret; covert; not open; NOT ABOVEBOARD
18. AFFABLE, AMIABLE, GENIAL, GREGARIOUS—Agreeable; marked by a pleasing
personality; warm and friendly
19. AUSTERE—Having no adornment or ornamentation; bare; not ORNATE
AUSTERITY—Great self-denial, economy, discipline; lack of adornment
20. ALTRUISM—Unselfish concern for the welfare of others
21. AMBIGUITY— The quality or state of having more than one possible meaning; doubtful;
EQUIVOCAL
AMBIGUOUS—Unclear; uncertain; open to more than one interpretation; not definitive;
dubious
22. UPBRAID, REPROACH, CASTIGATE—To express disapproval; to scold; to rebuke; to
CENSURE
23. NOSTALGIA— A WISTFUL, sentimental longing for a place or time in the past
24. CONJECTURE—An inference based upon guesswork; a SUPPOSITION
25. OBSOLETE, ARCHAIC, ANTIQUATED—No longer in use; outmoded in design or
style
26. AUSPICIOUS, PROPITIOUS—Very favorable
27. GAFFE—A blunder; a faux pas; a clumsy social or diplomatic error
28. IMPASSE—A deadlock; stalemate; failure to reach an agreement
29. ANACHRONISM—The false assignment of an event, person, scene, or language to a time
when the event, person, scene, or word did not exist
30. BELIE—To contradict; to prove false; used of appearances that are misrepresentative
31. MITIGATE, MOLLIFY, ASSUAGE, ALLEVIATE—To relieve; to lessen; to ease
32. COVET—To strongly desire; to crave
COVETOUS—Grasping, greedy, eager to obtain something; AVARICIOUS
33. ANTITHESIS—The direct or exact opposite; extreme contrast; ANTIPODE
ANTITHETICAL—Exa B B B B B B >A. &nctly opposite; ANTIPODAL
34. PROTOTYPE—An original model; an initial design
35. ALOOF—Detached; distant physically or emotionally; reserved; standing near but apart
36. TRITE, HACKNEYED, BANAL, PLATITUDINOUS, INSIPID—Unoriginal;
commonplace; overused; CLICHÉD
37. ANTECEDENT—A preceding event; a FORERUNNER; a PRECURSOR
38. PLAUSIBLE—Believable; credible
IMPLAUSIBLE—Unbelievable; incredible
39. PRUDENT—Careful; cautious; sensible
40. AESTHETIC—Relating to the nature of beauty, art, and taste; having a sense of what is
beautiful, attractive, or pleasing
41. PARADOX—A seemingly contradictory statement that nonetheless expresses a truth
42. ENIGMATIC, INSCRUTABLE—Mysterious; puzzling; unfathomable; baffling
43. ACQUIESCE—To comply; to agree; to give in
44. NAÏVE, GULLIBLE—Unaffectedly simple; lacking worldly expertise; overly
CREDULOUS; unsophisticated; immature; inexperienced; INGENUOUS
45. AUTONOMY—Independence; self-governance
AUTONOMOUS—Acting independently, or having the freedom to do so; not controlled
by others; self-governing
46. FUTILE—Completely useless; doomed to failure; in vain
47. INDIGENOUS, ENDEMIC—Native to an area
48. UBIQUITOUS, PREVALENT—Characterized by being everywhere; omnipresent;
widespread; PERVASIVE
49. PANDEMIC—An epidemic that is geographically widespread and affects a large
proportion of the population
50. FORTITUDE—Strength of mind that allows one to endure pain or adversity with courage
CHAPTER 2: CORE VOCABULARY II
51. DIMINUTIVE—Very small
52. TRIVIAL—Trifling; unimportant; insignificant
MINUTIAE—Minor everyday details
53. EXHORT—To encourage; to urge; to give a pep talk; to IMPLORE
54. ANTIPATHY—Strong dislike; ill will; the state of DETESTING someone; ENMITY;
RANCOR
55. DIGRESS—To depart from a subject; to wander; to ramble
56. TENACIOUS—Characterized by holding fast; showing great determination in holding on to
something that is valued
57. INDULGENT—Characterized by excessive generosity; overly tolerant
58. POLARIZE—To create disunity or dissension; to break up into opposing factions or
groups; to be DIVISIVE
59. NEBULOUS—Vague; cloudy; misty; lacking a fully-developed form
60. ANALOGY—A similarity or likeness between things—events, ideas, actions, trends—that
are otherwise unrelated
ANALOGOUS—Comparable or similar in certain respects
61. EPHEMERAL, FLEETING, EVANESCENT—Very brief; lasting for a short time;
transient
PERENNIAL—Returning year after year; enduring
62. PENCHANT, PREDILECTION, PROPENSITY—A liking or preference for something;
a BENT; an INCLINATION
63. CAPRICIOUS, MERCURIAL, FICKLE—Very changeable; characterized by constantlyshifting moods
64. BOORISH, UNCOUTH, CRASS—Vulgar; characterized by crude behavior and
deplorable manners; unrefined
65. INDIGNANT—Characterized by outrage at something that is perceived as unjust
66. INNUENDO—A veiled reference; an insinuation
67. THWART, STYMIE—To stop; to frustra B B B B B Bem"t="1ete; to prevent
68. ADROIT, DEFT, ADEPT—To have or show great skill; DEXTEROUS; nimble
69. ADMONISH—To earnestly caution; to warn another to avoid a course of action
70. INCONTROVERTIBLE—Impossible to deny or disprove; demonstrably true
71. VORACIOUS, RAVENOUS, RAPACIOUS—A huge appetite that cannot be satisfied;
INSATIABLE
72. CALLOUS—Emotionally hardened; insensitive; unfeeling
73. INTREPID, UNDAUNTED—Courageous; resolute; fearless
74. NONCHALANT—Having an air of casual indifference; coolly unconcerned;
UNFLAPPABLE
75. CONVOLUTED—Winding, twisting, and therefore difficult to understand; intricate
76. ITINERANT—Migrating from place to place; NOT SEDENTARY
77. POIGNANT—Moving; touching; heartrending
78. IMPETUS—A stimulus or encouragement that results in increased activity
79. BUCOLIC, RUSTIC, PASTORAL—Characteristic of charming, unspoiled countryside
and the simple, rural life
80. EQUANIMITY—Calmness; composure; even-tempered; poise
81. PANACHE, VERVE, FLAMBOYANCE, ÉLAN—Great vigor and energy; dash,
especially in artistic performance and composition
82. PROVOCATIVE—Provoking discussion; stimulating controversy; arousing a reaction
83. PLACID, SERENE—Calm or quiet; undisturbed by tumult or disorder
84. FORTUITOUS—Of accidental but fortunate occurrence; having unexpected good fortune
85. DISPEL—To drive away; scatter, as to DISPEL a misconception
86. AMALGAM—A mixture; a blend; a combination of different elements
87. VIABLE, FEASIBLE—Capable of being accomplished; possible
88. ANGUISH—Agonizing physical or mental pain; torment
89. INTEMPERATE—Lacking restraint; excessive
TEMPERATE—Exercising moderation and restraint
90. SUPERFICIAL—Shallow; lacking in depth; concerned with surface appearances
91. LAUD, EXTOL, TOUT, ACCLAIM—To praise; to applaud
92. DISMISSIVE—Showing overt intentional INDIFFERENCE or disregard; rejecting
93. DISPARAGE—To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way; to belittle
94. POMPOUS—Filled with excessive self-importance; pretentious; ostentatious; boastful
95. CRYPTIC—Having a hidden or AMBIGUOUS meaning; mysterious
96. SUBTLE—Difficult to detect; faint; mysterious; likely to elude perception
97. DISPARITY—An inequality; a gap; an imbalance
98. CURTAIL—To cut short or reduce
99. INNOCUOUS—Harmless; not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or
hostility; not INIMICAL
100. DIATRIBE, TIRADE, HARANGUE—A bitter abusive denunciation; a thunderous verbal
attack; a RANT
CHAPTER 3: YOU MEET THE MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE
ON THE SAT
101. CHARLATAN—A fake; fraud; imposter; cheat
102. SKEPTIC—A person who doubts, asks questions, and lacks faith
103. RHETORICIAN—An eloquent writer or speaker; a master of RHETORIC (the art of
speaking and writing)
1uote>104. HEDONIST—A person who believes that pleasure is the chief goal of life
105. ASCETIC—A person who gives up material comforts and leads a life of self-denial,
especially as an act of religious devotion
106. RACONTEUR—A person who excels in telling ANECDOTES
107. ICONOCLAST—A person who attacks and ridicules cherished figures, ideas, and
institutions
108. PARTISAN—A supporter of a person, party, or cause; a person with strong and perhaps
biased beliefs
109. POLYMATH—A person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas
DILETTANTE—An amateur or dabbler; a person with a SUPERFICIAL interest in an art
or a branch of knowledge; a trifler
110. MENTOR—An advisor; a teacher; a guide
ACOLYTE—A devoted follower
111. DEMAGOGUE—A leader who appeals to the fears, emotions, and prejudices of the
populace
112. AUTOMATON—A self-operating machine; a mindless follower; a person who acts in a
mechanical fashion
113. RECLUSE—A person who leads a secluded or solitary life
114. BUNGLER—Someone who is clumsy or INEPT; a person who makes mistakes because of
incompetence
115. CLAIRVOYANT—Having the supposed power to see objects and events that cannot be
perceived with the five traditional senses; as a noun, a SEER
116. PROGNOSTICATOR—A person who makes predictions based upon current information
and data
117. PUNDIT—An expert commentator; an authority who expresses his or her opinion, usually
on political issues
118. ZEALOT—A very enthusiastic person; a champion; a true believer, perhaps to an
excessive degree; a fanatic
119. NEOPHYTE, NOVICE, GREENHORN—A beginner; someone new to a field or activity
120. BENEFACTOR, PATRON—A person who makes a gift or be B B B B B BICAv>
BENEFICIARY—The recipient of funds, titles, property, and other benefits
121. DISSEMBLER, PREVARICATOR—A liar and deceiver
122. PROPONENT—One who argues in support of something; an ADVOCATE; a champion of
a cause
123. PRODIGY—A person with great talent; a young genius
124. ORACLE—A person considered to be ORACULAR, that is a source of wise counsel or
prophetic opinions
125. MISANTHROPE—A person who hates or distrusts humankind
126. INNOVATOR—A person who introduces something new
127. SYCOPHANT—A person who seeks favor by flattering people of influence; a TOADY;
someone who behaves in an OBSEQUIOUS or SERVILE manner
128. STOIC, STOLID—A person who is seemingly INDIFFERENT to or unaffected by joy,
grief, pleasure, or pain; impassive and emotionless
129. REPROBATE—A morally unprincipled person
130. RENEGADE—A disloyal person who betrays his or her cause; a traitor; a deserter
CHAPTER 4: EVERY SAT WORD HAS A HISTORY
131. DRACONIAN—Characterized by very strict laws, rules, and punishments
132. LACONIC—Very brief; concise; SUCCINCT; TERSE
133. SPARTAN—Plain; simple; AUSTERE
134. HALCYON—Idyllically calm and peaceful; an untroubled golden time of satisfaction,
happiness, and tranquility
135. SOPHISTRY—A plausible but deliberately misleading or FALLACIOUS argument
designed to deceive someone
136. CHIMERICAL—Given to fantastic schemes; existing only in the imagination; impossible;
vainly conceived
137. OSTRACIZE—To deliberately exclude from a group; to BANISH
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138. IMPECUNIOUS—Poor; penniless; NOT AFFLUENT
139. NEFARIOUS—Famous for being wicked; villainous; vile
140. JOVIAL—Good-humored; cheerful; JOCULAR
141. DIRGE—A funeral hymn; a slow, mournful, LUGUBRIOUS musical composition
142. MAUDLIN—Tearful; excessively sentimental, but not MAWKISH
143. QUIXOTIC—Foolishly impractical in the pursuit of ideals; impractical idealism
144. PANDEMONIUM—A wild uproar; tumult
145. MARTINET—A strict disciplinarian; a person who demands absolute adherence to forms
and rules
146. FIASCO—A complete failure; a DEBACLE
147. BOWDLERIZE—To remove or delete parts of a book, song or other work that are
considered offensive; to EXPURGATE
148. GALVANIZE—To electrify; to stir into action as if with an electric shock
149. PICAYUNE—Small value or importance; petty; trifling
150. GERRYMANDER—To divide a geographic area into voting districts so as to give unfair
advantage to one party in elections
151. MAVERICK—An independent individual who does not go along with a group or party; a
nonconformist
152. JUGGERNAUT—An irresistible force that crushes everything in its path
153. SERENDIPITY—Discovery by fortunate accident
154. ZENITH—The highest point; the peak; the APEX
155. NADIR—The lowest point; the bottom
CHAPTER 5: THE MIGHTY LITTLE AFFIXES
156. EXPUNGE, EXCISE, EXPURGATE—To take OUT; to delete; to remove
157. ECCENTRIC—Literally OUT of the center; departing from a recognized,
conventional, or established norm; an odd, UNCONVENTIONAL person
158. EXTRICATE—To get OUT of a difficult situation or entanglement
159. EXEMPLARY—Standing OUT from the norm; outstanding; worthy of imitation
160. ENUMERATE—To count OUT; to list; to tick off the reasons for
161. ELUSIVE—OUT of reach and therefore difficult to catch, define, or describe
162. EXORBITANT—Literally OUT of orbit and therefore unreasonably expensive
163. REDUNDANT—Needlessly repetitive; saying things AGAIN and AGAIN
164. REPUDIATE, RECANT, RENOUNCE—To take BACK; to reject; to DISAVOW
165. RELINQUISH—To surrender or give back (or return) a possession, right, or
privilege
166. RESILIENT—Bouncing BACK from ADVERSITY or misfortune; recovering quickly
167. REAFFIRM—To assert AGAIN; to confirm; state positively
168. RETICENT—To hold BACK one’s thoughts, feelings and personal affairs; restrained
or reserved
169. REBUFF—To repel or drive BACK; to bluntly reject
170. RENOVATE—To make new AGAIN; restore by repairing and remodeling
171. REJUVENATE—To make young AGAIN; to restore youthful vigor and appearance
172. RESURGENT—Rising AGAIN; sweeping or surging BACK
173. REPUGNANT—ABHORRENT; offensive to the mind or senses; causing distaste or
AVERSION
174. DELETERIOUS—Going DOWN in the sense of having a harmful effect; injurious
175. DECRY—To put DOWN in the sense of openly condemning; to express B B B B B B
A B B B strong disapproval
176. DESPONDENT, MOROSE—DOWNCAST; very dejected; FORLORN
177. DENOUNCE—To put DOWN in the sense of a making a formal accusation; to speak
against
178. DEMISE—Sent DOWN in the sense of ending in death; the cessation of existence or
activity
179. DEBUNK—To put DOWN by exposing false and exaggerated claims
180. DERIDE, DERISIVE—To put DOWN with contemptuous jeering; to ridicule or
laugh at
181. DEVOID—DOWN in the sense of being empty; completely lacking in substance or
quality; BEREFT; vacant
182. IMPECCABLE—Having NO flaws; perfect
183. IMPLACABLE—NOT capable of being PLACATED or appeased
184. INEXORABLE—NOT capable of being stopped; relentless; inevitable
185. INCOHERENT—NOT coherent and therefore lacking organization; lacking logical
or meaningful connections
186. INSURMOUNTABLE—NOT capable of being surmounted or overcome
187. IRREVERENT—Lacking proper respect or seriousness; disrespectful
188. IRRESOLUTE—NOT resolute; uncertain how to act or proceed; INDECISIVE;
VACILLATING
189. CIRCUMSPECT—Looking carefully around—thus cautious and careful; PRUDENT;
discreet
190. CIRCUITOUS—CIRCULAR and therefore indirect in language, behavior, or action,
roundabout
191. CIRCUMVENT—To circle AROUND and therefore bypass; to avoid by artful
maneuvering
192. CIRCUMSCRIBE—To draw a line AROUND and therefore to narrowly limit or
restrict actions
193. MAGNANIMOUS—Filled with generosity and forgiveness; forgoing resentment and
revenge
194. ERRONEOUS—Filled with errors; B B B B B B A B B B wrong
195. MOMENTOUS—Filled with importance; very significant
196. MELLIFLUOUS—Smooth and sweet; flowing like honey
197. OMINOUS—Filled with menace; threatening
198. ACRIMONIOUS—Filled with bitterness; sharpness in words; RANCOROUS
199. COPIOUS—Filled with abundance; plentiful
200. ABSTEMIOUS—Filled with moderation; TEMPERATE in eating and drinking
201. MALODOROUS—Filled with an unpleasant odor; foul-smelling
202. TEDIOUS—Filled with boredom; very tiresome; dull and fatiguing
203. HEINOUS, EGREGIOUS—Flagrantly, conspicuously bad; abominable; shockingly
evil; monstrous; outrageous
204. GRATUITOUS—Unwarranted; not called for by the circumstances; unnecessary
205. PRECARIOUS, PERILOUS—Uncertain; characterized by a lack of security or
stability
CHAPTER 6: THE TONE WORDS
206. WISTFUL—Longing and yearning, tinged with MELANCHOLY (long-lasting
sadness) and PENSIVENESS
207. EARNEST—Serious in intention or purpose; showing depth and sincerity of feelings
208. DISGRUNTLED, DISCONTENTED—Angry; dissatisfied; annoyed; impatient;
irritated
209. AUTHORITATIVE—Commanding and self-confident; likely to be respected and
obeyed, based on competent authority
210. FRIVOLITY—The trait of being FRIVOLOUS; not serious or sensible
FRIVOLOUS—Lacking any serious purpose or value; given to trifling or levity
211. ACERBIC, ACRID—Harsh, bitter, sharp; CAUSTIC
212. SOLEMN, GRAVE, SOMBERSO DPspan>—Not cheerful or smiling; serious;
gloomy
213. INQUISITIVE—Curious; inquiring
214. REFLECTIVE, PENSIVE—Engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious
thought, usually marked by sadness or melancholy
215. EQUIVOCAL—AMBIGUOUS, open to interpretation, having an uncertain
significance or meaning
EQUIVOCATE—To avoid making an explicit statement; to hedge; to use vague or
AMBIGUOUS language
216. DEFERENTIAL—Respectful; dutiful
217. EBULLIENT, ELATED, ECSTATIC, EUPHORIC, EXUBERANT—Feeling or
expressing great happiness or triumph
218. BENEVOLENT—Well-meaning; kindly
MALEVOLENT—Wishing evil to others, showing ill will
219. WHIMSICAL—Playful; fanciful; CAPRICIOUS; given to whimsies or odd notions
220. VINDICTIVE—Having a strong desire for revenge
221. PROSAIC, MUNDANE—Dull; uninteresting; ordinary; commonplace; tedious;
PEDESTRIAN; VAPID; BANAL; HACKNEYED; unexceptional
222. VITRIOLIC—Bitter; caustic; ACERBIC; filled with malice
223. CONCILIATORY—Appeasing; intending to PLACATE
224. DESPAIRING—Showing the loss of all hope
225. INFLAMMATORY—Arousing; intended to inflame a situation or ignite angry or
violent feelings
Each SAT contains 19 sentence completion questions that are primarily a test of your vocabulary.
Each sentence completion will always have a key word or phrase that will lead you to the correct
answer The following 30 sentence completion questions are designed to give you practice using
your knowledge of the core vocabulary in Volume 1. Each sentence completion will have a key
word or phrase that will lead you to the correct answer. Make sure to circle your answer. You’ll
find answers and explanations in the next section.
1. Paradoxically, this successful politician is sometimes very sociable and other times very
_____________ .
A aloof
B genial
C trite
D pragmatic
E naïve
2. Uncertainty is an unavoidable part of the stock market; investors should, therefore, learn to accept
doubt and tolerate _____________ .
A futility
B pragmatism
C diffidence
D ambiguity
E sarcasm
3. Paleontologists like China’s Xu Xing now find themselves in the _____________ situation of using
state-of-the art equipment to analyze prehistoric fossils.
A futile
B nostalgic
C coveted
D paradoxical
E banal
4. General MacArthur’s bold disregard for popular conventions and time-honored military strategies
earned him a reputation for _____________ .
A acquiescence
B audacity
C prudence
D indifference
E ambivalence
5. The scientist was both _____________ and _____________ : she was always careful to test each
hypothesis and cautious not to jump to conclusions.
A painstaking .. despondent
B nostalgic .. sentimental
C clandestine .. unconventional
D recalcitrant .. presumptuous
E meticulous .. prudent
6. Serena Williams is often described as having _____________ that is apparent in both her dazzling
tennis performances and her flamboyant athletic-wear designs.
A an equanimity
B a panache
yC a superficiality
D a nonchalance
E a subtlety
7. The Post-Modern architectural style is _____________ : it combines diverse elements, including
classical columns, Baroque ornamentation, and Palladian windows.
A a diatribe
B a conjecture
C an impasse
D an anachronism
E an amalgam
8. Boisterous, uncouth, and devoid of all manners, Artem was widely known for his _____________
behavior.
A boorish
B intrepid
C subtle
D temperate
E laudable
9. The coach’s halftime speech to his team was a _____________, a bitter railing denouncing their
inept play.
A diatribe
B conjecture
C innuendo
D evocation
E antecedent
10. Hira’s supervisor faulted her for turning in a _____________ proposal that was overly vague and
lacked a detailed analysis of costs and benefits.
A morose
B pompous
C nebulous
D viable
E divisive
11. The new zoning ordinance provoked such intense debate and caused such partisanship that it was
branded the most _____________ in the community’s long history.
A innocuous
B subtle
C superficial
D archaic
E polarizing
12. Emily was renowned for her _____________ ; she remained calm and composed even when
Ksed="1em">< confronted with stressful personal problems.
A callousness
B capriciousness
C intemperance
D equanimity
E superficiality
13. Like a true _____________ , Drew had a number of constantly shifting interests and hobbies.
A dilettante
B hedonist
C ascetic
D philanthropist
E dissembler
14. Critics accused the used car salesman of being a _____________ because he tried to dupe
customers with fraudulent information.
A novice
B charlatan
C prodigy
D sycophant
E clairvoyant
15. Much of Frederick Douglass’ prestige and influence came from his skill with the spoken word; he
was a great _____________ at a time when eloquent oratory was widely _____________ .
A raconteur .. disparaged
B pundit .. spurned
C rhetorician .. valued
D mediator .. ignored
E prognosticator .. denounced
16. The _____________ prediction was astonishingly _____________ : it offered a bold view of the
future that no one had foreseen.
A prognosticator’s .. unconventional
B partisan’s .. obvious
C iconoclast’s .. orthodox
D pundit’s .. fleeting
E demagogue’s .. prudent
17. As _____________ , Ashley delighted in disputing sacrosanct beliefs, questioning established
authorities, and challenging long-held practices.
A a mediator
B a sycophant
C a me K>
D an iconoclast
E a beneficiary
18. The head coach responded to the breach of team rules by instituting unusually strict rules that
players felt were too _____________ .
A cryptic
B diminutive
C draconian
D jocular
E equivocal
19. Outraged editors charged the vice-principal with _____________ their work by deleting key
parts of a controversial article on teenage drinking.
A coveting
B lauding
C bowdlerizing
D ostracizing
E gerrymandering
20. Morgan was _____________ person, naturally inclined to be tearful and excessively sentimental.
A a quixotic
B a recalcitrant
C an aserbic
D a deft
E a maudlin
21. Some people alternate between contrasting temperaments; either they are _____________ or they
are _____________ .
A nefarious .. wicked
B morose .. despondent
C affable .. genial
D quixotic .. pragmatic
E jovial .. jocular
22. Sydney is best described as _____________ : she is an independent person who recognizes that
the majority is sometimes wrong.
A a martinet
B a maverick
C a stoic
D a charlatan
E an ascetic
23. Charlie looked back on his family’s vacation at the lake as _____________ time filled with
carefree days Karestify">
A a halcyon
B an anguished
C a divisive
D an intemperate
E an ambiguous
24. Scientists warn that the _____________ consequences of global warming will not be limited to
the deterioration of penguin and polar bear habitats; humans can also expect devastating hurricanes
and _____________ floods.
A fortuitous .. damaging
B fleeting .. prodigious
C painstaking .. beneficial
D incontrovertible .. innocuous
E deleterious .. destructive
25. Muckrakers like Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell _____________ the corrupt business practices of
early 20th century robber barons, _____________ their unbridled greed and indifferent attitude
toward the public good.
A disapproved .. lauding
B extolled .. disparaging
C reaffirmed .. deriding
D celebrated .. censuring
E decried .. denouncing
26. Cautious, conventional, and always careful to follow procedures, Matthew is the very model of
____________ government bureaucrat.
A an audacious
B a resilient
C a circumspect
D a sardonic
E an acrimonious
27. What is the most inspiring about Professor DeMarco’s portrayal of Venetian life is the
_____________ of the human spirit, the force that has sustained the island-city through adversity and
always remains undaunted.
A divisiveness
B resilience
C superficiality
D reticence
E callousness
28. Jessica’s report was criticized for being both _____________ and _____ K___wid________ : it
was poorly organized and overly vague.
A meticulous .. ambiguous
B circuitous .. adroit
C incoherent .. nebulous
D glib .. poignant
E inexorable .. dismissive
29. Gustave Courbet’s bitter and spiteful denunciations of his critics earned him a reputation for
being _____________ .
A magnanimous
B abstemious
C meticulous
D vitriolic
E erroneous
30. The Mayans’ sudden and irrevocable _____________ is a long-standing historic _____________
: over the years, scholars have suggested a number of possible causes, including excessive warfare
and devastating natural disasters, to explain the disappearance of Mayan civilization.
A demise .. mystery
B longevity .. enigma
C rebirth .. riddle
D collapse .. myth
E resurgence .. conjecture
ANSWERS AND EXPLANATIONS
1. A
The question asks you to find a word that is the opposite of sociable. The correct answer is ALOOF
(Word 35).
2. D
The question asks you to find a word that means uncertain and fits with the phrase “accept doubt.”
The correct answer is AMBIGUITY (Word 21).
3. D
The question asks you to find a word that satisfies the contradictory but true situation in which Xu
Xing uses state-of-the art equipment to analyze prehistoric fossils. The correct answer is
PARADOXICAL (Word 41).
4. B
The question asks you to find a word that means a bold disregard for popular conventions and timehonored military strategies. The correct answer is AUDACITY (Word 9).
5. E
The N___wilig question asks you to find a first word that means careful and a second word that
means cautious. Note that in choice A, painstaking does mean careful, but despondent means very
depressed. The correct answers are METICULOUS (Word 8) and PRUDENT (Word 39).
6. B
The question asks you to find a word that means “dazzling” and “flamboyant.” The correct answer is
PANACHE (Word 81).
7. E
The question asks you to find a word that means “combines diverse elements.” The correct answer is
AMALGAM (Word 86).
8. A
The question asks you to find a word that means “boisterous, uncouth, and devoid of all manners.”
The correct answer is BOORISH (Word 64).
9. A
The question asks you to find a word that means a bitter denunciation. The correct answer is
DIATRIBE (Word 100).
10. C
The question asks you to find a word that means vague and lacking a detailed analysis. The correct
answer is NEBULOUS (Word 59).
11. E
The question asks you to find a word that would cause an “intense debate” and spark “partisanship.”
The correct answer is POLARIZING (Word 58).
12. D
The question asks you to find a word that means to be calm and composed under stressful conditions.
The correct answer is EQUANIMITY (Word 80).
13. A
The question asks you to find a word describing a person who has “constantly shifting interests and
hobbies.” The correct answer is DILETTANTE (Word 109) because a DILETTANTE is a dabbler
who has shifting interests.
14. B
The question asks you to find a word describing a person who “tried to dupe customers with
fraudulent information.” The correct answer is CHARLATAN (Word 101) because a CHARLATAN
is a fake or fraud who tries to dupe and cheat unsuspecting people.
15. C
The question asks you to find a first word describing Frederick Douglass. You are told that he was an
“eloquent” orator who had great “skill with the spoken word.” The second word must be positiv Sst "
align=e because Douglass derived great “prestige and influence” from his oratory. The correct
answer is RHETORICIAN (Word 103) and VALUED, because a RHETORICIAN is an eloquent
speaker and VALUED is a positive second word. Note that answer A is tempting because a
RACONTEUR is a great storyteller. However, DISPARAGED (Word 93) is a negative word
meaning to belittle or slight.
16. A
The question asks you to find a first word describing a person who makes predictions and a second
word describing those predictions as both “bold” and so farsighted that they had not been “foreseen.”
The correct answer is PROGNOSTICATOR (Word 116) and UNCONVENTIONAL (Word 7)
because a PROGNOSTICATOR makes predictions and these predictions would be
UNCONVENTIONAL because they are both “bold” and unforeseen.
17. D
The question asks you to find a person who delights in “disputing sacrosanct beliefs, questioning
established authorities, and challenging long-held practices.” The correct answer is ICONOCLAST
(Word 107) because an ICONOCLAST attacks cherished ideas and institutions.
18. C
The question asks you to find a word that describes the “strict rules” instituted by the head coach. The
correct answer is DRACONIAN (Word 131).
19. C
The question asks you to find a word that means “deleting key parts.” The correct answer is
BOWDLERIZING (Word 147).
20. E
The question asks you to find a word that means to be “naturally inclined to be tearful and excessively
sentimental.” The correct answer is MAUDLIN (Word 142).
21. D
The question asks you to find a pair of antonyms describing “contrasting temperaments.” Choices A,
B, C and E are all pairs of synonyms. Only choice D provides a pair of antonyms. The correct answer
is therefore QUIXOTIC (Word 143) and PRAGMATIC (Word 12).
22. B
The question asks you to find a word describing “an independent person” who doesn’t always follow
the majority. The correct answer is MAVERICK (Word 151).
23. A
The question asks you to find a word that is consistent with “carefree days and untroubled
tranquility.” The correct answer is HALCYON (Word 134).
24. E
The S"jum">< question asks you to find a pair of negative words that are consistent with the key
words “deterioration” and “devastating.” The correct answer is DELETERIOUS (Word 174) and
DESTRUCTIVE. Note that DESTRUCTIVE is consistent with “devastating” and that the
consequences of global warming are DELETERIOUS for both animals and humans.
25. E
The question asks you to find a pair of words describing how muckrakers would respond to robber
barons, who are described as “corrupt,” greedy, and “indifferent to the public good.” Choices A, B,
C, and D all include both positive and negative words. Since the sentence calls for a logically
consistent pair of negative words, the correct answer is DECRIED (Word 175) and DENOUNCING
(Word 177).
26. C
The question asks you to find a word that describes a bureaucrat who is “cautious, conventional, and
always careful to follow procedures.” The correct answer is CIRCUMSPECT (Word 189).
27. B
The question asks you to find a word that best describes the spirit of the Venetians. You are told that
this spirit or force sustained the Venetians through “adversity and always remains undaunted.” The
correct answer is RESILIENCE (Word 166).
28. C
The question asks you to find a first word that means “poorly organized” and a second word that
means “overly vague.” The correct answer is INCOHERENT (Word 185) and NEBULOUS (Word
59).
29. D
The question asks you to find a negative word that best characterizes how Courbet’s “bitter and
spiteful denunciations” affected his reputation. The correct answer is ACRIMONIOUS (Word 198).
30. A
The question asks you to find a pair of words that are consistent with the Mayans’ “disappearance”
and the fact that scholars still cannot explain why they vanished. The correct answer is DEMISE
(Word 178) and MYSTERY.
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